Raph Koster

Class of 1992
Major/Minor: English and Spanish with a Creative Writing minor

There are basically almost no aspects of my liberal arts education that I DON’T use in my work. I would feel dreadfully impoverished without it.

I’m a game designer. I make video games and board games, too. In particular, I ended up making massively multiplayer virtual worlds. I like to say that in game design, your canvas is the human mind.

This calls for knowledge of pretty much every discipline there is. In working on games, I needed to write dialogue. I had to develop the histories of non-existent lands. I drew on myth and literature for that. I wrote music for games. I used my studio art training for game artwork – and for developing new technologies to create that art. I dealt with the politics of large player communities. I program computers. I manage people.

In the end, the value of the liberal arts doesn’t lie in any one of the subjects. It lies in the fact that you start to see the connections between them, the ways in which studying literature is just another way to study history, studying history is another way to study psychology, studying psychology drives you to the sciences, and the sciences back to the arts. A liberal arts education teaches you to appreciate the tapestry, rather than just a few threads.

Who was your favorite faculty/staff member?

It’s impossible to pick a story or a professor. Dr Clarke and music. Tatum, Lamond, Gillin, and others in English. Amt in history. The Pabons and Shivers in Spanish. Mike Kaylor at the press. Kathy Wagner and Robert Day at the Lit House. Jazz evenings in Chestertown. May Day poetry readings.

I think the common thread is the closeness. There just wasn’t a huge distance between students and professors. You got to know them as people, and they got to know you.

What is your favorite Washington College memory?

Probably getting married by the river, with what seemed like half the faculty and a hundred fellow students in attendance, one week before I graduated.

Campus Involvement

Omicron Delta Kappa honor society, Society of Junior Fellows, Academic Computing Committee, Spanish Club, Lit House Fellow, journeyman at the Lit House Press, campus issues-oriented newsletter editor, editor of Translations Magazine, editor of Otherworlds Magazine, resident assistant, peer advisor.