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The New YorkerThe rise of the information age looked like a revolution partly because it created an élite from the previously unheralded ranks of programmers and gamers. Shawn Fanning, who spent part of his childhood in the welfare system and part in a foster home before inventing the file-sharing software Napster as a Northeastern University undergraduate, is the unlikely hero of Joseph Menn's All The Rave: The Rise and Fall of Shawn Fanning's Napster. Menn's Fanning, bright and soft-spoken, displays admirable loyalty to those who supported him early on, and sometimes too much loyalty -- his uncle John, a surrogate father who gave him his first computer, managed to grab a seventy-per-cent stake in the company and foiled any possible settlement with the record industry.
John Romero, one of the minds behind the popular combat video games Doom and Quake, was also shaped by an early experience with a father figure: when he was eleven, his stepfather discovered him at a pizza parlor playing video games and smashed his face into the machine. According to David Kushner's Masters of Doom: How Two Guys Created an Empire and Transformed Pop Culture, Romero first exorcised his demons in comic books that featured a boy being punished in gruesome ways by his father, then put the same themes to use in the games he created with his partner, John Carmack. After Doom's success, Romero and Carmack's relationship degenerated into a vicious feud -- or, in gamer terms, a "deathmatch." Romero lost but walked away with a tidy fortune and found love with a Playboy model-cum-gamer who used her salary from Romero's new company to get breast implants. (Kate Taylor)