Welcome to Raph Koster's personal website: MMOs, gaming, writing, art, music, books.
Welcome to Raph Koster's personal website: MMOs, gaming, writing, art, music, books.

The whole Web
Raph's Website

These are full-blown essays, papers, and articles.

Slideshows and presentation materials from conferences.

Interviews and Panels
Reprints of non-game-specific interviews, and transcripts of panels and roundtables.

Excerpts from blog, newsgroup, and forum posts.

The "Laws of Online World Design" in various forms.

A timeline of developments in online worlds.

A Theory of Fun for Game Design
My book on why games matter and what fun is.

Insubstantial Pageants
A book I started and never finished outlining the basics of online world design.

Links to resources on online world design.

O'Reilly Japan Interview

Masaya Matsuura interviewed me for the O'Reilly Village Japan website, on the occasion of A Theory of Fun coming out in Japan. You can comment here on the blog if you like.

Matsuura-san: Congratulations on the publication of the translated version of your book in Japan. How would you like it?

I am very excited! Japan is well-known as a country where there is a long tradition of game playing, and where games are taken seriously as a major medium. This is not true in all countries of the world; in many places, games are still considered fit only for children. I hope that my book offers some small contribution to the game community in Japan.

Question 2: It is popular to play games with a cellular phone in Japan recently and the number of game software using cellular phone which could play on Internet will increase. What would you think the current US and Europe market where is not getting hot enough like Japan? Especially what would you say to the Asian people life style which has a close connection to a cellular phone. Lots of Asian young people do everything using cellular phones.

There are many reasons, I think, why cellular phone usage in the US is not yet where it is in Europe and the US. Europe’s cell phone usage is actually well ahead of the US, approaching that of Japan and the rest of Asia. People there are much more comfortable with it.

Here in the US, I think that much needs to change in terms of regulation and how the cellphone business works before we can see that sort of adoption. We also still haven’t gotten excellent coverage in all parts of the country yet!

Question 3: Is there any difference in technical expert’s way of thinking and attitude as to what and how to develop the game?

I think so, yes. Any person will bring their own knowledge and experience to the table when they go to develop a game. Someone whose background is film is likely to want to make a game that is like a movie; someone who is a musician likes to have musical elements in their game. Similarly, people who are technical will approach the problems in making a game somewhat differently.

There are many ways to be a technical expert, of course. There are hardware experts, software experts, interface designers, industrial designers, architects, and so on. I think each type of knowledge will tend to bring different things to the table.

I am personally a fan of reading widely, and always self-educating. Learning more about more subjects is one of the best ways to stay mentally flexible, and I can only see that helping one’s work in game design.

Question 4: Regarding players, what would be the difference between American and Japanese? Also what is between Korean, Chinese and Japan?

Most of the big differences I see have to do with cultural aspects such as art styles that people are comfortable with, how much individualism is regarded as a virtue as opposed to collective action, how acceptable direct conflict is, and so on. My observation has been that many of those differences are breaking down today because of the Internet.

Right now, I’d say that Korean and Chinese players tend to be extremely competitive, and in my personal area of expertise, online games, they also tend to prefer games with large scale groups, guild vs guild warfare, and so on. They are more open to PvP than American players are (though this is changing in the US). American players are less welcoming of the “cute” look in general than Asian players are, preferring fairly dark, gritty, and realistic visuals. Japanese players welcome gameplay styles that would be seen as unusual in the US, such as dating sims, Bemani games, and many other more experimental titles.

Question 5: To make out a session at universities which are designed for game programmers in Japan, what kind of textbook and field to study would be suitable?

I believe that the best way to become a good game designer is to get a liberal arts education–refuse to specialize as long as you can. Learn to write, to draw, to make music, study history and art and architecture and culture in general. Learn about psychology and science. Be a sponge, and absorb as much as you can. Games are models of real world systems, so the broader your knowledge of the real world, the more you will being to the table when making games.

Question 6: Thank you for all your answers. Last, would you give your message to Japanese readers?

My message is always the same: be content, but never satisfied. By which I mean, be content with what you have achieved, and do not torment yourself over not doing better. But never be satisfied that this is all you can do–there is always more to be done and greater heights to reach.

And, I hope that you enjoy the book!

You can comment here on the blog if you like.

Child's Play

A Theory of Fun
for Game Design

Cover of A Theory of Fun



Buy from Amazon

After the Flood

Cover for After the Flood CD

Available on CD

More stuff to buy

Gratuitous Penguin 2006 Wall Calendar

Gratuitous Penguin 2006 Wall Calendar

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