Larger Than Life: NOVELIST OF THE SCREEN

NOVELIST OF THE SCREEN

The first time Marc Laidlaw played Doom it made him sick. It was not the violence; it was motion sickness--the game was so intense and immersive it actually messed with his inner ear. He immediately switched to the gentle, atmospheric adventure game Myst and developed another ailment: he became addicted. "I pretty much didn't get up from the computer for two days," he remembers.

Laidlaw was a published novelist, not a computer programmer, but he saw in those games new ways to tell stories. So in 1997 he joined an upstart game company in Seattle called Valve; Laidlaw had heard that he...