GDC Online organizers have revealed that Raph Koster, a key industry veteran behind the prodigious MMORPGs Ultima Online and Star Wars Galaxies, will be honored with the Online Game Legend Award at the third annual Game Developers Choice Online Awards.
In addition, Blizzard Entertainment’s influential World of Warcraft will be inducted into the Choice Online Awards Hall of Fame during the ceremony, taking place Wednesday, October 10 at GDC Online in Austin, Texas.
These special awards categories recognize developers and titles that have had significant impact in the world of online games. Honorees were selected through open nominations from the online game community and the distinguished GDC Online Advisory Board.
Raph Koster, this year’s Online Game Legend Award winner, has led a prolific career. As the lead designer on Ultima Online and the creative director on Star Wars Galaxies, his contributions helped lay the foundation for the many massively multiplayer games that followed. Koster’s professional credits span nearly every facet of game development, including writing, art, soundtrack music, programming and design.
Raph Koster is considered a thought leader, as he is a frequent lecturer and published author on topics of game design, community management, storytelling and ethics in game development. His A Theory of Fun, published in 2004, is considered seminal by educators and members of the art game movement, as well as being one of the most popular books ever written about games.
In his youth, Koster taught himself programming on an Atari 8-bit computer that he used to create the first game he ever sold (It was purchased by a fellow classmate). His early professional years include work on the award-winning multi-user dungeon LegendMUD, which he later parlayed into a position as lead designer on the seminal MMO Ultima Online. Koster’s varied interests in writing, art and graphic design served him well when he joined Sony Online Entertainment in the role of creative director on Star Wars Galaxies, a game praised for its lush graphics, authentic movie-based soundtrack, expansive in-game world, customization options and sophisticated gameplay mechanics.
After serving as chief creative officer at Sony Online Entertainment, Koster established his own firm, Metaplace, a software platform developer for social worlds and the company behind popular Facebook games Island Life and My Vineyard. In 2010, Metaplace was acquired by Disney Interactive Media Group’s online social development arm, Playdom, where Koster currently serves as vice president of creative design.
This year’s Choice Online Awards Hall of Fame inductee, Blizzard Entertainment’s World of Warcraft, was released in November 2004, 10 years after the launch of the company’s venerable Warcraft franchise (1994’s Warcraft: Orcs & Humans). Now regarded as a legacy in its own right, the game has dominated the MMO landscape, setting the standard for countless other games in the genre.
With its focus on delivering a polished player experience, World of Warcraft propelled MMOs into the mainstream. The game offered the community a reprieve from long load times and steep learning curves, which only made the colorful graphics, engaging gameplay, exciting quests and raids and immersive world more impressive.
As the title nears its eighth anniversary, World of Warcraft remains one of the top-rated PC games of all time and continues to thrive globally with a massive and passionate subscriber base. With three released expansion packs since launch and a fourth, Mists of Pandaria, around the corner, World of Warcraft is one of the most profitable and popular entertainment franchises in history, a pop culture fixture that is sure to transcend generations. Members of the Blizzard Entertainment World of Warcraft team will be on stage to accept the Hall of Fame award.
Previous winners of the Online Game Legend award include MUD co-creator Richard Bartle and Kesmai founders Kelton Flinn and John Taylor, and Hall Of Fame inductees for the awards have included seminal titles such as Ultima Online and Everquest.
More information about the 2012 Game Developers Choice Online Awards is available at the official website for the GDC Online awards. GDC Online takes place at the Austin Convention Center, October 9-11, 2012. More news and information about the show is available at its website, or on Facebook, Twitter, or RSS.