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Richard Garriot

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Richard Garriot

Richard Garriott de Cayeux
Born (1961-07-04) July 4, 1961 (age 52)
Cambridge, England, UK
Nationality British / American
Occupation Video game developer
Known for Ultima series
Space tourism
Spouse(s) Laetitia Garriott de Cayeux (2011-present)
Children Kinga Garriott de Cayeux
Parents Template:Plainlist
Relatives Robert Garriott (brother)

Richard Garriott de Cayeux (born Richard Allen Garriott on July 4, 1961) is a video game developer and entrepreneur. He is also known as his alter egos Lord British in Ultima and General British in Tabula Rasa. A well-known figure in the video game industry, Garriott was originally a game designer and programmer and now engages in various aspects of computer game development and business. He is also known for being one of the first space tourists.

On October 12, 2008, Garriott launched aboard Soyuz TMA-13 to the International Space Station as a self-funded tourist,[1][2] returning 12 days later aboard Soyuz TMA-12. With his trip, he became the second person, and first American, to be a second-generation space traveler.

Garriott founded a new video game development company in 2009, called Portalarium.[3] His current project is Shroud of the Avatar: Forsaken Virtues where his primary role is that of Creative Director.

In 2011 he was married and changed his name to Richard Garriott de Cayeux.[4] Richard and wife Laetitia, had their first child, Kinga, on June 30, 2012.[5]


Early life

Richard Garriott was born in Cambridge, England to American parents,[6] and was raised in Nassau Bay, Texas, United States. He is the son of scientist Owen K. Garriott, who became an astronaut and flew with Skylab 3 and Space Shuttle mission STS-9.

What Garriott later described as "my first real exposure to computers" occurred in 1975, during his freshman year of high school at Clear Creek High School. As he wanted more experience beyond the single one-semester BASIC class the school offered, and as a fan of The Lord of the Rings and Dungeons & Dragons, Garriott convinced the school to let him create a self-directed course in programming, in which he created fantasy computer games on the school's teletype machine.[7][8] Garriott later estimated that he wrote 28 computer fantasy games during high school.[6]

In the summer of 1977, Garriott's parents sent him to the University of Oklahoma for a seven-week computer camp. Shortly after he arrived, some of the other boys attending the camp introduced themselves. When Garriott replied to their greeting of "Hi" with "Hello" they decided he sounded like he was from Britain, and gave him the nickname "British". Garriott uses the name to this day for his various gaming characters, including Ultima character Lord British and Tabula Rasa character General British;[9] however, despite his nickname and birthplace, Garriott's parents moved to Texas when he was a baby and his accent is American rather than British.[10]

Game design career

In summer 1979, Garriott worked at a ComputerLand store where he had his first encounter with Apple computers. Inspired by their color graphics, he began to add perspective view to his own games. After creating Akalabeth for fun, the owner of the store convinced him it might sell. He spent US$200 getting a manual and a cover sheet drawn by his mother printed out, and put them in Ziploc bags to sell around the store. Although he sold less than a dozen copies at the store, one of them made it to California Pacific, who signed a deal with him. He sold over 30,000 copies, receiving $5 for each game sold.[8][11] In the fall, he entered the University of Texas at Austin, joined the school's fencing team and later joined the Society for Creative Anachronism.

Steve Jackson Games (SJG) maintained a good relationship with Garriott, and when he stopped by the SJG office one day, he ended up commissioning Denis Loubet to paint the cover of Ultima I (1980), and many other covers for Garriott's games thereafter.[12]

In the early 1980s, Garriott developed the Ultima computer game series, eventually leaving the university to make the games his full-time job.[8] Originally programmed for the Apple II, the first was published by California Pacific Computers and sold in Ziploc plastic bags to interested parties. The second part was published by Sierra On-Line, as they were the only company that agreed to publish it in a box. By the time he developed his third installment, the games had such a large following that Garriott (along with his brother, Robert, amongst others) established Origin Systems, their own video game publisher to handle the publishing and distribution of his title, now available on several platforms.

Garriott sold Origin to Electronic Arts in September 1992. In 1997, he coined the term massively multiplayer online role-playing game (MMORPG), giving a new identity to the nascent genre previously known as graphical MUDs.[13] In 1999 and 2000, EA canceled all of Origin's new development projects, including Privateer Online, and Harry Potter Online.[14][15] In the midst of these events, Garriott resigned from the company and returned to the industry by forming Destination Games in April 2000 with his brother and Starr Long (the producer of Ultima Online). Once Garriott's non-compete agreement with EA expired a year later, Destination partnered with NCsoft where he acted as a producer and designer of MMORPGs. After that, he became the CEO of NCsoft Austin, also known as NC Interactive.

Tabula Rasa failed to be a commercial success despite its seven-year development period. On November 11, 2008, in an open letter on the Tabula Rasa website, Garriott announced his plans to leave NCsoft to pursue new interests sparked by his spaceflight experiences. Later, however, Garriott claimed that the letter was forged as a means of forcing him out of his position and that he had had no intention of leaving.[16] On November 24, NCsoft announced that it planned to end the live service of Tabula Rasa. The servers shut down on February 28, 2009, after a period of free play from January 10 onward for existing account holders.[17]

In July 2010, an Austin District Court awarded Garriott USD$28 million in his lawsuit against NCsoft, finding that the company did not appropriately handle his departure in 2008.[18] In October 2011, the United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit affirmed the judgment.[19]

Garriott founded the company Portalarium in 2009. The company is developing Shroud of the Avatar: Forsaken Virtues, a massively multiplayer spiritual successor to the Ultima series, with Garriott having remarked that had they been able to secure the rights to the Ultima intellectual property from Electronic Arts, the game could literally have became Ultima Online 2 in name.[20][21][22][23] On March 8, 2013, Portalarium launched a Kickstarter campaign[24] for Shroud of the Avatar: Forsaken Virtues.[25]


Richard Garriott
Space Adventures Tourist
Nationality British / American
Born (1961-07-04) July 4, 1961 (age 52)
Cambridge, England, UK
Other occupation Game designer
Time in space 11d 20h 35m
Missions Soyuz TMA-13/TMA-12
Mission insignia

The income from the success of Garriott's video game career allowed him to pursue his interest in spaceflight, and the sale of Origin Systems allowed him to invest in Space Adventures and purchase the ticket to become the first private citizen to fly into space. However, Garriott suffered financial setbacks in 2001 after the dot-com bubble burst, and he was forced to sell his seat to Dennis Tito.[26]

He then says he got back into making games, to make money, and once he had enough, put down a non-refundable deposit to go into space. During the mandatory medical examination, they found he had a hemangioma on his liver, which could cause potentially fatal internal bleeding if there was a rapid depressurization of a spacecraft. He was told he had to give up his large deposit, or undergo life threatening surgery, so he decided to have the operation, and now has a 16 inch scar from it. He spent a year in Russia training before he launched into space.[26]

On September 28, 2007, Space Adventures announced that Garriott would fly to the International Space Station in October 2008 as the sixth space tourist, reportedly paying $30 million USD.[1][27] On October 12, 2008, Garriott became the second second-generation space traveler (after Sergei Volkov)[28][29] and the first offspring of an American astronaut to go into space,[1][28][30] and the second person to wear the British Union flag in space.[31] The Soyuz docked with the station on October 14. His father Owen K. Garriott was at the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan for the launch of his son Richard and was in attendance when a Soyuz capsule returned with his son twelve days later.

During his spaceflight, Garriott took part in several education outreach efforts. He is an Amateur Radio Operator (callsign W5KWQ), and during his stay on the International Space Station (ISS), communicated with students and other Amateur Radio operators using Amateur Radio.[32] Garriott also transmitted photographs using the Amateur Radio on the International Space Station (ARISS) slow-scan television system. Garriott also placed a geocache while aboard the ISS.[33]

Garriott also worked with the Windows on Earth project, which provides an interactive, virtual view of Earth as seen from the ISS.[34] Garriott used Windows on Earth software to assist in the selection of locations on Earth to photograph, and the public were able to use the same online tool to track the ISS and see the view Richard was experiencing out an ISS window. Richard's photographs, along with images taken by his astronaut father Owen Garriott in 1973, will be available to the public through Windows on Earth, adding a personal element to studies of Earth and how Earth has changed over time.[34]

Tracy Hickman wrote a screenplay for Garriott, for the first science-fiction film shot in space, Apogee of Fear.[35]

On October 24, Russian cosmonauts of ISS Expedition 17, Sergei Volkov and Oleg Kononenko, along with space tourist Richard Garriott, aboard Soyuz TMA-12 capsule, landed safely (ideal) at 9:37 a.m. (0336GMT, 07:36 Moscow time), 55 miles north of Arkalyk, Kazakhstan. They were lifted to the Kazakhstan Baikonur space center by helicopter, and then flew to Zvezdny Gorodok (Star City), Moscow Region.[36][37][38][39]

On June 3, 2009, the New York Daily News announced that Garriott would officiate at the first wedding to be held in zero gravity.[40] The wedding took place in a specially modified Boeing 727-200 aircraft, G-Force One, operated by Zero Gravity Corp, or ZERO-G, a company offering weightless flight experiences, of which he is the co-founder.[41]

In 2010 he released a documentary Man on a Mission: Richard Garriott's Road to the Stars. [42]

Other accomplishments and interests

Garriott bought the Luna 21 lander and the Lunokhod 2 rover (both currently on lunar surface) from the Lavochkin Association for $68,500 in December 1993 at a Sotheby's auction in New York[43] (although the catalog incorrectly lists lot 68A as Luna 17/Lunokhod 1).[44]

Garriott acted as corner man for professional boxer and friend Jesús Chávez in his first title defense against Erik Morales in 2004.[45]

He is also an avid magician and magic collector, and appeared on the cover of the January 2008 issue of MUM, the magazine of the Society of American Magicians.[46]

Garriott built a haunted house/museum at his residence called Britannia Manor in Austin, Texas. He also promotes private space flight as vice-chairman of the board of directors for Space Adventures and as a trustee of the X PRIZE Foundation.[47] Garriott's collection was featured on the June 10, 2012 episode of the Oddities TV series.

In 2007, he co-founded Planetary Power, Inc. with Eric C. Anderson and Miguel Forbes.[48]


Garriott became the ninth inductee into the Academy of Interactive Arts and Sciences' Hall of Fame in 2006.


Game name First released Garriott's role(s)
Akalabeth: World of Doom 1980 Game designer & programmer
Ultima I: The First Age of Darkness 1981 Original conceptor, programmer & graphic artist
Ultima II: The Revenge of the Enchantress 1982 Game designer
Ultima III: Exodus 1983 Project director
Ultima IV: Quest of the Avatar 1985 Project director
Autoduel 1985 Programmer & designer
Ultima V: Warriors of Destiny 1988 Designer, writer & programmer
Omega 1989 Designer
Ultima VI: The False Prophet 1990 Designer, producer, sound effect worker, writer & voice actor
Worlds of Ultima: The Savage Empire 1990 Executive producer
Ultima: Worlds of Adventure 2: Martian Dreams 1991 Creative director
Ultima: Runes of Virtue 1991 Creative director
Ultima Underworld: The Stygian Abyss 1992 Director & voice actor
Ultima VII: The Black Gate 1992 Director & producer
Ultima VII: The Forge of Virtue 1993 Creative assistance & producer
Ultima VII Part Two: Serpent Isle 1993 Creative director & audio team member
Ultima VII Part Two: The Silver Seed 1993 Director & voice actor
Ultima Underworld II: Labyrinth of Worlds 1993 Director & voice actor
Ultima VIII: Pagan 1994 Producer
Ultima: Runes of Virtue II 1994 Creative director & additional design
Ultima VIII: The Lost Vale Expansion Pack Cancelled Producer
BioForge 1995 Executive producer
Ultima Online 1997 Producer
Ultima Online: The Second Age 1998 Executive designer
Lineage 1998 Executive producer
Ultima IX: Ascension 1999 Director
Lineage II 2003 Executive producer
City of Heroes 2004 Executive producer
City of Villains 2005 Executive management
Tabula Rasa 2007 Executive producer
Shroud of the Avatar: Forsaken Virtues 2014 Executive producer


External links

  • Portalarium
  • Twitter
  • Internet Movie Database
  • Blog and details about Garriott's spaceflight
  • Facebook page for Richard Garriott de Cayeux
  • Windows on Earth

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