Raph Koster

Game designer, virtual community expert

San Diego, California

Areas of Expertise:

  • game design
  • virtual worlds
  • mmorpg
  • game
  • videogame
  • online worlds
  • synthetic worlds
  • fun
  • consulting
  • speaking
  • writing
Raph Koster is a veteran game designer who has been professionally credited in almost every area of the game industry. He's been the lead designer and director of massive titles such as Ultima Online and Star Wars Galaxies; and he's contributed writing, art, soundtrack music, and programming to many more titles ranging from Facebook games to single-player titles for handheld consoles. Koster is widely recognized as one of the world's top thinkers about game design, and is an in-demand speaker at conferences all over the world. In 2012, he was named an Online Game Legend at the Game Developers Conference Online. Visit his blog at www.raphkoster.com.

Theory of Fun for Game Design Theory of Fun for Game Design
by Raph Koster
Second Edition November 2013
Print: $34.99
Ebook: $27.99

Theory of Fun for Game Design Theory of Fun for Game Design (Paraglyph Press)
by Raph Koster
November 2004
Print: $24.99
Ebook: $19.99

Raph blogs at:

How to build the scary future today

June 11 2014

Create a tiny computer using as small a chip you can get. Stick a Bluetooth LE or equivalent transmitter on it. Even better if you can get GPS. Even more if you can get a low power cellphone chip. Call this a node. A node has a unique id. Nodes… read more


May 13 2014

Monkey-X is my current favorite language for doing game prototypes and even full projects. It isn’t at all widely known, and has more than a few rough edges, but I still find it congenial and thought I’d share so that more people will give it a try. When I went… read more

The Sunday Poem: Afternoon Joggers

May 11 2014

It has been a very long time since I posted a Sunday Poem. That is because it has been a long time since I wrote a poem. But here is one that popped out the other day. Afternoon Joggers The way they run, struggling against invisible wind, Great gusts in… read more

The Financial Future of Game Developers

May 07 2014

I’ve been thinking a lot lately about the financial future of developers. The supply chain for creative work To go back a ways, back in 2006 I suggested that you could look at the winding path a piece of media takes to the public in this way: A funder of… read more

Is this the future?

May 07 2014

Premise: Goods made of bits offer tremendous advantages to providers of said goods. Therefore, any good that can be described in terms of bits will be. Therefore, any good that cannot be described in terms of bits that can cheaply phone home will, in the name of better service, causing… read more

2048: Game Design Theory Edition

May 02 2014

I have to post this here for posterity even though I already tweeted it yesterday. Anyone better at 2048 than I who can post the full list of everyone in it? I’ll update the post with the details. See below! 2048: Game Design Theory Edition. Made by Brian Upton. I… read more

GDC Next Call for Papers

April 30 2014

It’s that time again — GDC Next, the inheritor of the GDC Austin slot, is requesting submissions for talks. The high-level theme this year is, more or less, “after the game idea, what’s next?” We all know that the idea is in many ways the easiest part, and in this… read more

On SiriusXM tomorrow!

April 14 2014

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… read more

Musings on the Oculus sale

March 26 2014

Rendering was never the point. Oh, it’s hard. But it’s rapidly becoming commodity hardware. That was in fact the basic premise of the Oculus Rift: that the mass market commodity solution for a very old dream was finally approaching a price point where it made sense. The patents were expiring;… read more

GDC: Building game retention tips

March 25 2014

Aside from the ten minute talk at Critical Proximity that I posted yesterday, I spoke for an additional six minutes at GDC2014 (yes, that’s unusually low commitment for me!). It was a microtalk on retention tips for free to play games in the “build and invest” genre — stuff like… read more

A New Formalism: Critical Proximity talk

March 24 2014

On the Sunday before GDC, I attended and spoke at Critical Proximity, a games criticism conference. It was quite excellent. I am left with many thoughts, which will have to go into a separate post on the subject. In the meantime, there are write-ups available in several places: Polygon The… read more