Sep 282016

I recently had the chance to sit down with Markee Dragon, during AGC. It was at the offices where they are making Crowfall, but we didn’t really talk about Crowfall. Instead, we talked about… fish tanks.

Or more exactly, about game design in general, and then about how there are systems in the world around us which provide inspiration, and how a lot of them, like gardening, just have really bad user interfaces. Which led us to fish tanks, and the rich and complex game system that exists in one. So we kind of started designing that game right there on the fly.

It was a highly entertaining conversation, for me at least — and now Markee has released the video, so maybe it’s entertaining for you too!


Game talkOn SiriusXM tomorrow!

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Apr 132014

I’ll be speaking on SiriusXM Business radio on The Digital Show Monday at 2pm Pacific/5pm Eastern, with Kartik Hosanagar of Wharton. It’s on channel 111, and the topic will be virtual reality.

This is of course occasioned in part by my post on the sale of Oculus to Facebook, but I hope we spend time talking about the broader context: how VR is one of the things that a beleaguered core gamer audience is looking to as a great saving hope, and how VR has the potential to link into long-dormant Metaverse dreams, and more. And of course, whether VR is really where it’s going to be at, or whether AR is really the hotter space… though really, I am of the opinion that they are more or less the same thing… about which more on the show. 🙂

Aug 282013

I didn’t plan it this way, but we have two interviews on back to back days! This one was for Adam Tingle over at, and it focuses mostly on MMOs specifically, as you might expect, with a lot of retrospective stuff. You can read it here.

We talk a bit about the making of Ultima Online, the development travails of SWG, the promise of Metaplace, and even the origins of sandboxy features back in LegendMUD. A snippet:

MMORPG: Do you believe in structuring a players experience, or prefer giving them tools to create a more emergent adventure?

Raph Koster: Both, really. But I strongly believe that you can’t build the emergent tools on top of a static world. As soon as you decide to make storytelling or quests or whatever the basis of your experience, you sacrifice having dynamic and emergent things in the game, because you can’t break or upset all the static content. Whereas if you start with a foundation of simulation or UGC, and layer static stuff on top, that works fine, because the static content is built to assume shifting foundations.

Aug 272013

I did a little interview with Patrick Miller for Gamasutra, as part of the run-up to GDCNext. A snippet:

How do you see the role of games (and the kind of experience players expect) changing? Are there any games/other work do you see around you now that is indicative of an emerging trend in this regard — something which you think you’ll later point to as a watershed moment in the evolution of video games?

It feels like we are swimming in this water already and not realizing it. Just recently, Gone Home charted on Steam above some big AAA releases. That’s a landmark moment right there. The press has already turned the corner to a significant degree – the debates over the artistic merits of a title like BioShock Infinite were already louder to my ears than the sort of traditional review discussion we used to get. The titles under discussion by craftspeople at conferences are the indie games, not the AAA games. We’ve seen the rise of artist enclaves, bohemian attitudes, old guard resistance, jejune manifestos (mind you, I think virtually all manifestos are jejune) and all the rest.

I think the floodgates are open. We’re at the point now where the kids who grew up with widespread “mass market” gaming are adults and are steeped in the gamer culture and mindset, and with that is coming all the self-examination, the desire to see substantial thematic content, and so on. The revolution has happened.

via Gamasutra – What’s Next? Koster talks ‘the revolution’, future of games.

I am sure I will take flak for the jejune bit. #nodads 😉

Oct 282011

The normally vivacious Leigh Alexander was an a contemplative mood as she posed questions to me in an hourlong interview right after GDC Online. We talked about how games are changing with mobile and social coming along and making sessions shorter and arguably less classically immersive; and how we ourselves are drifting away from the big games, as players.

I wish more of the interview fit in the format of a Gamasutra article, because it was a great, quiet little discussion.

“Another way to think of it is, we always said games would be the art form of the 21st century: Gamers will all grow up and take over the world, and we’re at that moment now,” he continues. “It’s all come true — but the dragons and the robots didn’t come with us, they stayed behind.”

Yet in plenty of ways this loss isn’t even about social games, Koster believes. “We’re losing some of our most cherished things — and honestly, we already had. The more big business we got, the more that got replaced by women in too-little clothes, or guys that all look the same and have bullet-heads and everybody’s dressed in green and brown.”

In light of the increasingly risk-averse and market-researched nature of traditional games, the increasing size of the mainstream audience has been something of a boon. “If you’d asked someone in 1998 whether there could be hit games about cooking, fashion design… a guy running over roofs, [as in Canabalt], still there’s an element of a broader frame of reference, a broader aesthetic there.”

And while he himself is a big science fiction fan, Koster says that a wider frame of reference is “incredibly exciting” for games that can be about all kinds of things now, beyond the expected. “We lose something, but we gain something that is potentially bigger,” he reflects.

Gamasutra – News – Raph Koster Talks Loss, Opportunity For Games In The Social Media Age.