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My name is Raphael Koster, and I'm currently a game designer living in San Diego, California. Over to the right you can see an old picture of me, taken while playing guitar over at a friend's house. The main differences these days are that my hair is cut short, and I'm at least 50 pounds heavier from sitting at a desk all day. Oh, and the guitar playing has gotten better.
I've got a wonderful family: my wife Kristen (shown to the left) is staying at home raising our two kids, Elena, age 10, and David (9). She's got a website up with tons of pictures of them, if you are willing to put up with a long wait as your web browser downloads them:
A very brief version of my life would go something like this: I was born on Long Island in September of 1971, moved to Massachusetts at an early age, and went through half of grade school there. Then my mother started working for UNICEF, and I ended up living for six years in Peru. After that it was Barbados, and then a brief stint in Haiti. During this time, my dad moved to Tennessee, Georgia, and then Florida. Then I came back to the States to finish high school in Florida. I went on to college in Maryland, at Washington College which I enjoyed immensely. I graduated in three years with a double major in English (Creative Writing) and Spanish; and then completed my Master of Fine Arts degree at the University of Alabama.
I've got a bunch of siblings, half-siblings, relatives, and so on, but none of them seem to have websites of their own, so I won't tell you much about them.
Odds are pretty good that if you came here looking for something, it was the section on online game design. I work as a lead designer for teams building online virtual worlds. My first video game was Pong. I first started with computers on CP/M machines like the Osborne 1. I did a lot of programming on the Atari 8-bit machines. While in grade school I also designed board games a lot--we used to play them during recess. That hobby lasted for many years. We also, of course, played Dungeons and Dragons and then other paper roleplaying games. I started mudding in 1992, and eventually got a job as a designer working on persistent worlds at Origin Systems. My last project there was Ultima Online, which was a huge success, opening the online persistent world market to the general gaming public. I then went on to work for Sony Online Entertainment, first as creative director on Star Wars Galaxies and then as Chief Creative Officer. I left in early 2006 to start a new studio focusing on virtual worlds.
There's a whole bunch of my writings on online game design here, and they are available under the Gaming link from the menu. Odds are a great deal smaller that you are here because of my life as a writer (maybe you knew me as a writer from college or high school? If you did, please visit the contact page so we can get back in touch!). I'm not real active on that front these days, but I do post a poem every Sunday to the blog. You can find examples of my fiction and poetry under the Writing link.
The writing life ended in a spasm of graduate school. My life as an academic was short--though I loved teaching, I hated academic politics. You can read more about my life as a quasi-professor, and see selected literary analysis essays and teaching materials, under the Writing heading.
Music is an important part of my life. I play acoustic guitar and compose my own material. My first CD, After the Flood, is available at CafePress.com. The Music section here has information on some of my songs, lyrics and tablature, guitar tunings, and links to other musicians whose work I admire.
I've dabbled in art and graphic design from time to time. You can check that out under the Artwork heading.