John is of mixed Yaqui, Cherokee, and Mexican heritage. He did not have an easy childhood, as his father and uncle died from drug addictions, two of his cousins were murdered, and two uncles worked for a cartel. However, he had a brain condition that let him remember practically everything he experienced and an incredible gift for design.

At a time when video game design as found in Mario, Pacman, and Street Fighter was flat and from the third-person perspective, John permanently ratcheted gamers’ anxiety and body odor to new levels by inventing the first-person shooter (FPS) and multiplayer deathmatch after joining id Software in 1991.

While at id Software, John published some of the most iconic titles ever, including Commander Keen, Doom, Doom II, Quake, and Wolfenstein 3D—introducing bloody, fast-paced play to gaming. In total, he helped design and create 28 games in six years with a team of less than 10 developers.

After design disagreements, John left id in 1996. He went on to found Ion Storm, Monkeystorm Games, Slipgate Ironworks, Loot Drop, and Romero Games, creating other successful games like Red Faction, Gunman Taco Truck, and SIGIL.

John’s influence is present in the most popular games ever, including Fortnite, Call of Duty, Overwatch, and World of Warcraft. So, next time you find yourself up at God knows what hour, Leeroy Jenkinsing into an enemy base, thank John Romero.