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October 24, 2017
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Raph Koster's Blog   Expert Blogs


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; founded his own company; worked at places like EA, Sony, and Disney; 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. He's also the author of the classic book A Theory of Fun for Game Design.  In 2012, he was named an Online Game Legend at the Game Developers Conference Online. Visit his website at


Expert Blogs

Posted by Raph Koster on Mon, 11 Jul 2016 05:38:00 EDT in
In the wake of PokemonGo, it's a wise idea to look at the history of MMOs and virtual worlds for lessons learned.

Posted by Raph Koster on Tue, 30 Jun 2015 07:44:00 EDT in Business/Marketing, Design
"They're just entertainment." "It's not our problem." "No, they don't." "Do you want games to be censored?" Lots of developers don't want to talk about if and how games affect people! But let's do it anyway.

Posted by Raph Koster on Wed, 03 Jun 2015 02:15:00 EDT in Business/Marketing
To quote Paul Simon, "every generation throws a hero up the pop charts." We all know the game industry is cyclical; here's how it works.

Posted by Raph Koster on Fri, 17 Apr 2015 02:06:00 EDT in Design, Console/PC, Social/Online
Star Wars Galaxies has been controversial for years thanks to a series of design decisions made both before and after launch. Among these was how Jedis were handled. Here's the design postmortem!

Posted by Raph Koster on Fri, 21 Nov 2014 02:24:00 EST in Design, Console/PC, Social/Online
World of Warcraft has now been with us for ten years, dominating the MMO landscape in the Western market. From where did it spring, why was it so successful, and what has its influence been on MMOs?

Posted by Raph Koster on Mon, 04 Aug 2014 01:49:00 EDT in Design, Console/PC, Indie, Social/Online, Smartphone/Tablet
We toss around the word "clone" pretty liberally. What actually is a game clone? Why isn't every game in a genre a clone? What does "genre" even mean? Augh!

Raph Koster's Comments

Comment In: [Blog - 08/28/2017 - 09:54]

In addition to the links ...

In addition to the links suggested, I would urge you to take a look at r n r n- the work of Nicole Lazzaro, who did a pretty solid set of empirical research into types of fun, using microexpression analysis. r n r n- my own book A Theory of ...

Comment In: [Blog - 07/12/2017 - 10:08]

This is a good article, ...

This is a good article, but r n r n A feature is often a twist on a slot rule, which makes it look like the game is more likely to pay in your favor it 's not, it 's all hocus pocus r n r nis exactly what I ...

Comment In: [News - 05/30/2017 - 03:43]

One point I made in ...

One point I made in the interview but doesn 't come through as much in the article is that this is a pop industry. It 's entertainment, and much like movies and music also have a dearth of older folks, so does games in part because of demographics and pop ...

Comment In: [Blog - 03/13/2017 - 10:09]

I don 't use Unity ...

I don 't use Unity myself, but the usual way to handle the draw call issue in 2d games is to render as much as possible to a buffer or texture, then draw that to the screen, updating only the edges as the map scrolls. You can use dirty rectangles ...

Comment In: [Blog - 12/14/2016 - 09:22]

My experience with formal tools ...

My experience with formal tools as described in the article is that it cut my failure rate by about 80 percent. It helped me ideate much faster, it helped me develop variants faster, it HUGELY assisted in tuning and analysis, and it gave me much clearer language for communicating with ...

Comment In: [Blog - 07/11/2016 - 05:38]

Enough people challenged me on ...

Enough people challenged me on the title that I wrote a follow up. You can read it here: