CV

 

For press kit or bio materials for speaking engagements or otherwise, please visit the Press Kit page.

For a less detailed but similar set of information, please visit my LinkedIn profile.

Raphael R. Koster

Summary

A professional game designer and frequent writer on issues of interactive design, Raph Koster was the lead designer on the seminal online world ULTIMA ONLINE, which first brought online worlds to the mass market. Until March 2006 he was Chief Creative Officer for Sony Online Entertainment, makers of EVERQUEST, where he previously led the design of STAR WARS GALAXIES.

After departing SOE, Koster founded Metaplace, a virtual world startup funded by Crescendo Ventures, Charles River Ventures, and Marc Andreessen. Metaplace created groundbreaking patented technology that allow the creation of cloud-based games and virtual worlds, making games “work the way the web does.” Metaplace operated a portal site, METAPLACE.COM, where users could create their own worlds. Metaplace then moved into social games, creating ISLAND LIFE and MY VINEYARD before being acquired by Playdom.

He worked as Vice President of Creative Design at Playdom/Disney, where he served as creative director for DEEP REALMS and unannounced titles, as well as continuing to work on technology. He departed Disney/Playdom in April of 2013.

His essays and writings on online world design include widely reprinted and influential pieces such as “Declaring the Rights of Players”, “The Laws of Online World Design”, and “A Story About a Tree”. He is in demand as a speaker and lecturer on issues of online game design, particularly in the area of community building. He is a regular speaker at the Game Developers Conference, and is the maintainer of the canonical history of virtual worlds at his website, http://www.raphkoster.com. His book A THEORY OF FUN FOR GAME DESIGN was published in 2004 by Paraglyph Press (now from O’Reilly) and is used in several university courses as study material. In 2012 he was named an Online Game Legend at the GDC Online Awards.

Degrees

1995:

1992:

  • B.A., Magna cum laude, English and Spanish (departmental honors in both), Washington College, Chestertown, MD
    • Thesis: An Extended Family (short stories) — honors
    • Thesis: The Path (translation from the Spanish) — honors

Career

2013-present

  • Independent designer and consultant.
  • Board of Advisors, Toytalk
  • Board of Advisors, Gamxing
  • Advisory Council, NTN Buzztime
  • Board of Advisors, stealth game company #1
  • Board of Advisors, stealth game company #2

2010-2013

  • Playdom/Disney
    • Vice President of Creative Design. Internal design consultant, occasionally led titles.  Member of Disney Interactive’s interal creative council.
    • Creative Director, DEEP REALMS
    • Creative Director, unannounced/not shipped titles

2006-2010

  • Metaplace Inc, also known as Areae Inc
    • President and Chairman. Founded the company, fundraised successfully from Silicon Valley, ideated core technology. Eventually sold to Playdom.
    • METAPLACE.COM
    • ISLAND LIFE
    • MY VINEYARD
    • LEGENDARY TREASURE

2003-2006

  • Sony Online Entertainment
    • Chief Creative Officer. Worked with teams at key milestones. Troubleshooter for troubled projects. Managed R&D department for speculative technologies; developed new patentable tech. Substantial company PR work. Developed pitches and interfaced with potential licensors in Hollywood and other media.
    • Additional Writing, UNTOLD LEGENDS

2000-2003:

1995-2000:

  • Origin Systems

    • Designer/Creative Lead (1995-1997). Responsible for designing game systems, narrative, worldbuilding, some technical art, leading team creatively.
    • ULTIMA ONLINE
    • Lead Designer (1997-2000). Responsible for managing design team while working closely with art and programming. Significant involvement in community relations.
    • ULTIMA ONLINE: THE SECOND AGE
  • PRIVATEER ONLINE (not shipped).

Distinctions

2013:

2012:

  • Online Game Legend Award, Game Developers Conference Online 2012
  • All-TIME 100 Video Games, ULTIMA ONLINE, Time Magazine

2011:

2009:

  • Top 20 Most Influential People in the MMO industry, Beckett MMO Gamer Magazine

2008:

  • Top 20 Most Influential People in the MMO industry, Beckett MMO Gamer Magazine

2007:

  • METAPLACE.COM, Audience Award at TechCrunch 40.

2006:

2005:

2004:

  • STAR WARS GALAXIES,SpikeTV Game Awards
    • Nominee, Game of the Year
    • Nominee, Best Online Game
    • Nominee, Best Fantasy Game
  • STAR WARS GALAXIES, Online Game of the Year
    • Game Industry News
    • 1up.com (Electronic Gaming Monthly, Computer Gaming World, etc) Reader’s Choice
    • 1up.com, Editor’s Choice
    • IGN Editor’s Choice
    • IGN Reader’s Choice
  • STAR WARS GALAXIES, Game of the Year
    • Cinescape

2003:

  • STAR WARS GALAXIES, Game Critics Awards (Electronic Entertainment Expo)
    • Nominee, Best Online Multiplayer Game

2002:

  • STAR WARS GALAXIES, Game Critics Awards (Electronic Entertainment Expo)
    • Best online Multiplayer Game

2001:

  • STAR WARS GALAXIES, Game Critics Awards (Electronic Entertainment Expo)
    • Runner-up, Best of Show
    • PC Game of Show
    • Best Online Multiplayer

1998:

  • Online Game of the Year, ULTIMA ONLINE: THE SECOND AGE, The Academy of Interactive Arts and Sciences

1997:

  • Online Game of the Year, ULTIMA ONLINE
    • The Academy of Interactive Arts and Sciences,
    • C|NET Gamecenter
    • Online Gaming Review (Editor’s Choice)
    • Online Gaming Review (Player’s Choice)
    • AllAbout Games (Gamer’s Choice Award)
    • GAME.EXE Magazine (Russia) Finalist/nominee
    • Computer Games Strategy Plus
  • Game of the Year nominee, ULTIMA ONLINE
    • Computer Gaming World (reader’s choice)
  • Game of the Year runner-up, ULTIMA ONLINE
    • GAME.EXE Magazine (Russia)
  • Roleplaying Game of the Year, runner-up/nominee/honorable mention
    • Academy of Gaming Arts and Design
    • PC Gamer (Gamer’s Choice Award)
    • Online Gaming Review (Editor’s Choice)
    • Computer Gaming World (Reader’s Choice)
  • Computer Game Developers’ Association (Spotlight Award)
  • C|NET Award for Internet Excellence, ULTIMA ONLINE
  • CESA (Computer Entertainment Software Academy, Japan)
    • Special Recognition Award for Outstanding Accomplishment in a New Arena, ULTIMA ONLINE

1993-1995:

1992:

  • George Washington Medal (awarded to the senior displaying greatest promise of understanding and realizing in life and work the ideals of a liberal education), Washington College
  • Modern Languages Dept. Prize, Washington College
  • English Dept. Prize & honors, Washington College

1990:

  • Sophie Kerr Scholar, Washington College, Chestertown, MD

Publications

2013:

  • A THEORY OF FUN FOR GAME DESIGN, SECOND EDITION. Published by O’Reilly.

2006:

2004:

2003:

1994:

1991-92:

  • Various publications of poetry and fiction in college magazines
  • Editorship of various college magazines

Presentations

2014:

2013:

2012:

2011:

2010:

2009:

2008:

2007:

2006:

2005:

2004:

  • “Developing a Massively Multiplayer Game”Co-presenter, all-day tutorial, Game Developers Conference 2004
  • “Game Design Challenge: The Love Story”Panelist, Game Developers Conference 2004
  • “Towards Relevant Research: Collaboration 101″Panelist, Game Developers Conference 2004
  • “SciFi MMPs: Lessons from Star Wars Galaxies and Earth and Beyond”Panelist, Game Developers Conference 2004
  • “It’s What’s Inside That Counts”Panel moderator, Women’s Game Conference
  • “Design Risks We Should Be Taking”Panel moderator, Austin Game Conference
  • “The Past and Future of Online Worlds”Lecture, ChinaJoy
  • “Openness, Trust, and Sovereignty”Invited Participant, Swiss Re/Kennedy School of Government
  • “Online Worlds: The Forms of Things Unknown”Lecture, IGDA San Diego chapter meeting
  • “Massive Multiplayer Online Gaming: Worlds of Opportunity?”Panelist, iHollywood Forum, CES

2003:

2002:

2001:

2000:

  • “The Rules of Massively Multiplayer Games”Co-presenter, Game Developers Conference, March 20-24
  • “Design Patterns for Online Worlds”Co-presenter, Game Developers Conference, March 20-24
  • “Community Building in Online Worlds” (tutorial)Co-presenter, Game Developers Conference, March 20-24
  • “Using 3D Graphics in Online Communities: Opportunities and Challenges”Panelist, MediaMOO Conference, March

1999:

  • “Current and Future Developments in Online Games”Opening address (never delivered, had to cancel at the last moment)Online Games ’99 (London, November)
  • “Building A Better World: Managing Online Gaming Communities Effectively”Panelist, VR Worldcon, September ’99
  • Special guest, VR Worldcon ’99- part of AussieCon3, 57th WorldCon)
  • “Virtual Worlds: A Live Interactive Presentation”Lecture, Austin Museum of Art, April 22nd
  • “The Laws of Massively Multiplayer Online Worlds”Co-presenter, Game Developers Conference, March 20-24
  • “Managing Deviant Behavior in Online Communities”Panelist, MediaMOO Conference, March

1998:

  • “The Rules of Massively Multiplayer Games”Co-presenter, Austin RoadTrip Game Developers Conference, November

Major Interviews, Articles, and Press

2014:

  • Interview on virtual reality, The Digital Show, SiriusXM Business Radio (April 14th)

2013:

2011:

2010:

2009:

2008:

2007:

2006:

2005:

2002:

2001:

2000:

1999:

1998:

Professional Memberships and Advisory Panels

Hobbies

  • Songwriting and playing guitar. One CD released, AFTER THE FLOOD, 1999.
  • Writing (mostly speculative) fiction and poetry. Past member of Turkey City, the seminal Austin cyberpunk writing workshop.
  • Avid reading of SF and fantasy.