Raph Koster Founds New Studio
Former Sony Online Entertainment lead Raph Koster has created a new company to make virtual worlds.
Raph Koster, the former lead developer of Ultima Online and Chief Creative Officer of Sony Online Entertainment, has begun a new studio. Also joining him are John Donham as Vice President of Productions, MUD creator Dr. Richard Bartle and Boing Boing co-editor Cory Doctorow.
Areae, funded by Crescendo Ventures and Charles River Ventures, will be creating new virtual worlds. Koster says the company will be "looking to bring the qualities of the web, especially of Web 2.0, to virtual worlds. There's a lot of things wrapped up in that - everything from very low-end user costs for being able to participate, lots and lots and lots of listening to users, having them involved, having them contribute." He has placed heavy emphasis on the power of the players, stating that "the real platform for online worlds is the internet, and clients are an accident of history."
The company website includes job listings for a lead programmer, a server programmer and artists. Areae has decided to avoid doing a press release for now and let word of mouth take care of marketing. Koster remains tight-lipped about Areae's future projects.
This is only tangentially related, but I just read a discussion between Koster and various teachers and professors in the September 2006 issue of Harper's (I'm a little behind on my back issues). The forum title was Grand Theft Education: Literacy in the Age of Video Games, which didn't give me very high expectations for the discussion itself, but I was actually pleasantly surprised. At least partly with Koster's help, the discussion raised some interesting points about the possible uses of video games in education, among other things.
I'll be curious to see what this project entails.