Raph Koster at the Web 2.0 Conference in 2005
September 7, 1971|
Long Island, New York
|Spouse(s)||Kristen Koster (1992—)|
Raphael "Raph" Koster (born September 7, 1971) is an American entrepreneur, game designer, and author of A Theory of Fun for Game Design. Koster is widely recognized for his work as the lead designer of Ultima Online and the creative director behind Star Wars Galaxies. Since July 2006, he has been working as the founder and president of Metaplace (previously operating as Areae) producing an upcoming platform for online games also called Metaplace.
Koster attended Washington College in Chestertown, Maryland, receiving a Bachelor's degree in English (Creative Writing) and Spanish in 1992. The same year he became involved with MUDs as an implementor in LegendMUD, where he was known as Ptah. He also played MUME for a time. On May 10, 1992, he married Kristen Koster who would later work alongside him at Origin Systems as a game designer.
In 1995, he received a Master of Fine Arts in Poetry from the University of Alabama in Tuscaloosa, Alabama, and joined Origin Systems as the lead designer of Ultima Online. Koster was also the lead designer of Ultima Online: The Second Age, Ultima Online Live, and an unannounced and cancelled title until 2000, when he joined Verant Interactive in Austin as the creative director of Star Wars Galaxies.
Promoted to chief creative officer in 2003, he relocated to Sony Online Entertainment in San Diego where he spent three years primarily responsible for business development. In March 2006, Koster left the company to pursue other opportunities. As of July 2, he is currently working on "something indie ... something that is [hopefully] disruptive and different and not games as usual."  This venture was revealed as Areae on December 15, 2006. 
Koster is a charter member of the Academy of Interactive Arts and Sciences, and a member of the IGDA, ASCAP, and Omicron Delta Kappa. He is also a frequent speaker at game industry conferences such as the Game Developers Conference, DICE, State of Play, and E3. He presently lives in San Diego, California with his wife, daughter, and son.
- LegendMUD (emeritus implementor, 1998)
- Ultima Online (lead designer; Origin Systems 1997)
- Ultima Online: The Second Age (lead designer; Origin Systems 1998)
- Star Wars Galaxies: An Empire Divided (creative director; Verant Interactive 2003)
- Star Wars Galaxies: Jump to Lightspeed (creative consultant; Sony Online Entertainment 2004)
- Star Wars Galaxies: The Total Experience (creative consultant; Sony Online Entertainment 2005)
- EverQuest II (chief creative officer; Sony Online Entertainment 2004)
- EverQuest II: Desert of Flames (chief creative officer; Sony Online Entertainment 2005)
- EverQuest II: Kingdom of Sky (chief creative officer; Sony Online Entertainment 2005)
- Untold Legends: Brotherhood of the Blade (chief creative officer and editor; Sony Online Entertainment 2005)
- GripShift (chief creative officer; Sony Online Entertainment 2005)
- Frantix (chief creative officer; Sony Online Entertainment 2005)
- Champions: Return to Arms (chief creative officer; Sony Online Entertainment 2005)
- Field Commander (chief creative officer; Sony Online Entertainment 2006)
- After the Flood (1999)
- A Theory of Fun for Game Design — Foreword by Will Wright (ISBN 1-932111-97-2)
- "Declaring the Rights of Avatars"
- A Story About A Tree, (May 1998), revolving around the Karyn incident
- "The Laws of Online World Design" (GDC 1999 presentation)
- Koster, Raph. "Geek Fun Isn't Frivolous; Alien Swarms of Thundering, Flashing Games Hit Town This Week. They're Here to Make Us Smarter." Los Angeles Times 15 May 2005, sec. M1.
- "As Seen In Modern Lair" (October 2007)
- Hot 100 (Next Generation 2006)
- 100 Greatest Developers (Game Informer 2006)
- Computer Gaming World, "The CGW Interview: Raph Koster", April 2006
- Real People, Virtual Worlds, 2002 film documentary by Tracy Spaight
- Raph Koster's Website
- Areae, Inc.
- A Theory of Fun for Game Design official website
- MobyGames Biography
- "Raph Koster Leaves Sony Online Entertainment" (Gamasutra)
- Pham, Alex. "Game Design; Building a Community--Even a Virtual One--Takes Work." Los Angeles Times 6 Sept. 2001, sec. T5.
- Interview: December 21, 2006 (Amber Night)
- Interview: December 25, 2006 (Stratics)
- Interview: March 22, 2006 (Game Studies)
- Interview: July 25, 2006 (The Escapist)
- Interview: March 10, 2007 (GameZombie.tv)
- Interview: October 11th, 2007 (The MMO Gamer)
In the news
- BBC: Virtual worlds opened up to all (September 19, 2007)
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