Richard Garriott

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Richard Garriott
Richard garriott july 2008.jpg
Richard Allen Garriott

(1961-07-04) 4 July 1961 (age 58)
Cambridge, England
Citizenship American, British [1]
Occupation Video game developer
Known for Ultima series
Private astronaut
Relatives Robert Garriott (brother)
Awards AIAS Hall of Fame Award (2006) [2]
Space career
Space Adventures private astronaut
Time in space
11d 20h 35m
Missions Soyuz TMA-13/TMA-12
Mission insignia
Soyuz-TMA-13-Mission-Patch.png Soyuz TMA-12 Patch.png

Richard Allen Garriott de Cayeux ( Garriott; July 4, 1961) is an English-American video-game developer and entrepreneur. He is also known by his alter egos "Lord British" in the game series Ultima and "General British" in Tabula Rasa . Garriott, who is the son of NASA astronaut Owen Garriott, was originally a game designer and programmer, and is now involved in a number of aspects of computer-game development. On October 12, 2008, Richard flew aboard the Soyuz TMA-13 mission to the International Space Station as a private astronaut, [3] [4] returning 12 days later aboard Soyuz TMA-12. He became the second astronaut, and first from the U.S., to have a parent who was also a space traveler.

A video game developer is a software developer that specializes in video game development – the process and related disciplines of creating video games. A game developer can range from one person who undertakes all tasks to a large business with employee responsibilities split between individual disciplines, such as programming, design, art, testing, etc. Most game development companies have video game publisher financial and usually marketing support. Self-funded developers are known as independent or indie developers and usually make indie games.

Alter ego second self

An alter ego means alternative self, which is believed to be distinct from a person's normal or true original personality. Finding one's alter ego will require finding one's other self, one with different personality. A distinct meaning of alter ego is found in literary analysis used when referring to fictional literature and other narrative forms, describing a key character in a story who is perceived to be intentionally representative of the work's author, by virtue of oblique similarities, in terms of psychology, behavior, speech, or thoughts, often used to convey the author's own thoughts. The term is also sometimes, but less frequently, used to designate a hypothetical "twin" or "best friend" to a character in a story. Similarly, the term alter ego may be applied to the role or persona taken on by an actor or by other types of performers.

Lord British, whose full name is Lord Cantabrigian British, is the name of the fictional ruler of Britannia, a kingdom in the fictional world of Sosaria, created by Richard Garriott for his computer game series Ultima. Garriott himself is also known to his fans as Lord British.


Garriott founded a new video-game-development company in 2009, called Portalarium. [5] His current project is Shroud of the Avatar: Forsaken Virtues where his primary role is as CEO and Creative Director. In 2011, Garriott married Laetitia de Cayeux. Both changed their last names to Garriott de Cayeux. [6]


Portalarium, Inc. is a video game developer based in Austin, Texas that was formed in September 2009 by Richard Garriott, together with his longtime game industry partners, Dallas Snell and Fred Schmidt. Portalarium marks Richard Garriott's first return to the video game industry since the release of his 2007 title Tabula Rasa. The name "Portalarium", as well as the company's motto, "We take you there," are intended as a continuity and reference to Garriott's prior two companies' names and respective mottoes; Origin Systems, "We Create Worlds," and Destination Games, "We have arrived."

<i>Shroud of the Avatar: Forsaken Virtues</i> Fantasy role-playing video game

Shroud of the Avatar: Forsaken Virtues is a fantasy role-playing video game. Described as being a spiritual successor to the Ultima series, Shroud of the Avatar is developed by Austin, Texas-based developer Portalarium, with a team led by Richard Garriott as creative director, Starr Long as executive producer, Chris Spears as lead technical designer, and Tracy Hickman as lead story designer.

Laetitia Garriott de Cayeux

Laetitia Garriott de Cayeux is a French-American entrepreneur and was the president and COO of Escape Dynamics.

Early life

Richard Allen Garriott was born in Cambridge, England on July 4, 1961, [7] [8] to Helen Mary Garriott (née  Walker) and Owen Garriott, one of NASA's first scientist-astronauts (selected in NASA Astronaut Group 4), who flew on Skylab 3 and Space Shuttle mission STS-9. [9] [10] Richard was raised in Nassau Bay, Texas from the age of about two months. [1] [9]

Cambridge City and non-metropolitan district in England

Cambridge is a university city and the county town of Cambridgeshire, England, on the River Cam approximately 50 miles (80 km) north of London. At the United Kingdom Census 2011, its population was 123,867 including 24,506 students. Cambridge became an important trading centre during the Roman and Viking ages, and there is archaeological evidence of settlement in the area as early as the Bronze Age. The first town charters were granted in the 12th century, although modern city status was not officially conferred until 1951.

Owen Garriott American electrical engineer and astronaut

Owen Kay Garriott was an American electrical engineer and NASA astronaut, who spent 60 days aboard the Skylab space station in 1973 during the Skylab 3 mission, and 10 days aboard Spacelab-1 on a Space Shuttle mission in 1983.

NASA US government agency responsible for civilian space programs, and aeronautical and aerospace research

The National Aeronautics and Space Administration is an independent agency of the United States Federal Government responsible for the civilian space program, as well as aeronautics and aerospace research.

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. [11] [12] Garriott later estimated that he wrote 28 computer fantasy games during high school. [8]

BASIC Programming language

BASIC is a family of general-purpose, high-level programming languages whose design philosophy emphasizes ease of use. In 1964, John G. Kemeny and Thomas E. Kurtz designed the original BASIC language at Dartmouth College. They wanted to enable students in fields other than science and mathematics to use computers. At the time, nearly all use of computers required writing custom software, which was something only scientists and mathematicians tended to learn.

<i>The Lord of the Rings</i> 1954–1955 fantasy novel by J. R. R. Tolkien

The Lord of the Rings is an epic high fantasy novel written by English author and scholar J. R. R. Tolkien. The story began as a sequel to Tolkien's 1937 fantasy novel The Hobbit, but eventually developed into a much larger work. Written in stages between 1937 and 1949, The Lord of the Rings is one of the best-selling novels ever written, with over 150 million copies sold.

<i>Dungeons & Dragons</i> Fantasy role-playing game

Dungeons & Dragons is a fantasy tabletop role-playing game (RPG) originally designed by Gary Gygax and Dave Arneson. It was first published in 1974 by Tactical Studies Rules, Inc. (TSR). The game has been published by Wizards of the Coast since 1997. It was derived from miniature wargames, with a variation of the 1971 game Chainmail serving as the initial rule system. D&D's publication is commonly recognized as the beginning of modern role-playing games and the role-playing game industry.

In the summer of 1977, his 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; [13] however, despite his nickname and birthplace, his parents moved to Texas when he was a baby and his accent is American rather than British. [14]

University of Oklahoma public research university in Norman, Oklahoma, United States

The University of Oklahoma (OU) is a public research university in Norman, Oklahoma. Founded in 1890, it had existed in Oklahoma Territory near Indian Territory for 17 years before the two became the state of Oklahoma. In Fall 2018 the university had 31,702 students enrolled, most at its main campus in Norman. Employing nearly 3,000 faculty members, the school offers 152 baccalaureate programs, 160 master's programs, 75 doctorate programs, and 20 majors at the first professional level.

Game design career

Garriott began writing computer games in 1974. His first games were created on and for teletype terminals. The code was stored on paper tape spools and the game was displayed as an ongoing print-out on the spools of printer paper produced by teletype machines. In summer 1979, Garriott worked at a ComputerLand store where he had his first encounter with Apple computers. Inspired by their video monitors with color graphics, he began to add perspective view to his own games. After he created Akalabeth for fun, the owner of the store convinced Garriott it might sell. Garriott spent US$200 printing copies of a manual and cover sheet that his mother had drawn, then he put copies of the game in Ziploc bags to sell at the store. Although Garriott sold fewer than a dozen copies of Akalabeth at the store, one copy made it to California Pacific, who signed a deal with him. The game sold over 30,000 copies, and Garriott received $5 for each copy sold. [12] [15] [16] Akalabeth is considered the first published Computer Role Playing Game. In the fall, Garriott entered the University of Texas at Austin, joined the school's fencing team and later joined the Society for Creative Anachronism. He created Ultima I while at the university. It was published by California Pacific Computers and sold in Ziploc plastic bags, as was common in those days.


ComputerLand was a widespread chain of retail computer stores during the early years of the microcomputer revolution, and was one of the outlets chosen to introduce the IBM PC in 1981. The first ComputerLand opened in 1976, and the chain eventually included about 800 stores by 1985. After this time the rapid commoditization of the PC led to the company's downfall, with most of the retail locations closing by 1990. The company officially ended in February 1999.

United States dollar Currency of the United States of America

The United States dollar is the official currency of the United States and its territories per the United States Constitution since 1792. In practice, the dollar is divided into 100 smaller cent (¢) units, but is occasionally divided into 1000 mills (₥) for accounting. The circulating paper money consists of Federal Reserve Notes that are denominated in United States dollars.

Ziploc brand of reusable, re-sealable zipper storage bags and containers

Ziploc is a brand of reusable, re-sealable zipper storage bags and containers originally developed and test marketed by The Dow Chemical Company in 1968 and now produced by S. C. Johnson & Son. The plastic bags and containers come in different sizes for use with different products. The brand offers sandwich bags, snack bags and other bags for various purposes.

Steve Jackson Games (SJG) maintained a friendly relationship with Garriott and, when he visited the SJG office one day, Garriott was so impressed by the artwork of Denis Loubet that he commissioned him to paint the cover of Ultima I (1980). Loubet subsequently painted many other covers for Garriott's games. [17]

In the early 1980s, Garriott continued to develop the Ultima series of computer games, eventually leaving university to author them on a full-time basis. [12] Originally programmed for the Apple II, the Ultima series later became available on several platforms. Ultima II was published by Sierra On-Line, as they were the only company that would agree to publish it in a box together with a printed cloth map. By the time he developed Ultima III, Garriott, together with his brother Robert, their father Owen and Chuck Bueche established their own video game publisher, Origin Systems, to handle publishing and distribution, in part due to controversy with Sierra over royalties for the PC port of Ultima II. [18] [19] [7]

Garriott, dressed as his "Lord British" persona, at the 2018 Game Developers Conference Richard garriott gdc 2018 cropped.jpg
Garriott, dressed as his "Lord British" persona, at the 2018 Game Developers Conference

Garriott sold Origin Systems to Electronic Arts in September 1992 for 30 million dollars. [20] 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. [21] In 1999 and 2000, EA canceled all of Origin's new development projects, including Privateer Online, and Harry Potter Online. [22] [23] 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 generate a significant amount of money during its initial release, 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. [24] [ failed verification (See discussion.)] Garriott reviewed and signed this announcement, but did not sign a resignation letter that had been drafted for him by NCSoft. [25] On November 24, 2008 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. [26]

In July 2010, an Austin District Court awarded Garriott US$28 million in his lawsuit against NCsoft, finding that the company did not appropriately handle his departure in 2008. In October 2011, the United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit affirmed the judgment. [27]

Garriott founded the company Portalarium in 2009. The company is developing Shroud of the Avatar: Forsaken Virtues , a 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 have become Ultima Online 2 in name. [28] [29] [30] [31] On March 8, 2013, Portalarium launched a Kickstarter campaign [32] for Shroud of the Avatar: Forsaken Virtues. [33] An early access version of the game was released on Steam on November 24, 2014, and the game was fully released in March 2018. [34] [35]


In 1983 Softline reported that "Garriott wants to go into space but doesn't see it happening in the predictable future ... He has frequently joked with his father about stowing away on a spaceship, and recently his speculations have been sounding uncomfortably realistic". [7] 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. [36]

He then says he returned to 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. Told he had to either give up his large deposit, or undergo life-threatening surgery, 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. [36]

Richard Garriott (far right) aboard the ISS on 23 October 2008 with the MIT SPHERES Satellites Iss017e021361.jpg
Richard Garriott (far right) aboard the ISS on 23 October 2008 with the MIT SPHERES Satellites

On September 28, 2007, Space Adventures announced that Garriott would fly to the International Space Station in October 2008 as a self-funded private astronaut, reportedly paying $30 million USD. [3] [37] On October 12, 2008, Garriott became the second second-generation space traveler (after Sergei Volkov) [38] [39] and the first offspring of an American astronaut to go into space, [3] [38] [40] and the second person to wear the British Union flag in space. [41] 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 and was in attendance when a Soyuz capsule returned with his son twelve days later. [42]

Screen capture from Windows on Earth, used by Garriott on ISS to identify targets for Earth photography. (Coast of Peru) WinEarth screen Peru coast.png
Screen capture from Windows on Earth, used by Garriott on ISS to identify targets for Earth photography. (Coast of Peru)

During his spaceflight, Garriott took part in several education outreach efforts. As a part of that outreach program he worked with the free Metro newspaper in London, which provided him with a special edition containing details of British primary school student's space experiment concepts which Richard took to the ISS. The Metro has claimed as a result that it was the first newspaper in space. [43] [44] 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. [45] 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. [46]

Garriott also worked with the Windows on Earth project, which provides an interactive, virtual view of Earth as seen from the ISS. [47] 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. [47]

Tracy Hickman wrote a screenplay for Garriott, for the first science-fiction film shot in space, Apogee of Fear . [48]

On October 24, Russian cosmonauts of ISS Expedition 17, Sergei Volkov and Oleg Kononenko, along with private astronaut Richard Garriott, aboard Soyuz TMA-12 capsule, landed safely (ideal) at 09:36 (03:36GMT, 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. [49] [50] [51] [52]

On June 3, 2009, the New York Daily News announced that Garriott would officiate at the first wedding to be held in zero gravity. [53] The wedding took place in a specially modified Boeing 727-200 aircraft, G-Force One, operated by Zero Gravity Corporation, or ZERO-G, a company offering weightless flight experiences, of which he is the co-founder. [54]

In 2010 he released a documentary, Man on a Mission: Richard Garriott's Road to the Stars. [55]

Other accomplishments and interests

In 1986, Garriott helped start the Challenger Center for Space Science Education. His high school science teacher was June Scobee-Rogers, wife of Challenger Shuttle Commander Dick Scobee, who piloted the STS-51-L mission. STS-51-L was intended to carry the first teacher in space flight, before it and its crew were tragically lost on lift off. Scobee drew on Garriott's early leadership in gaming, to help design what has become approximately 50 global interactive networked facilities, where students study about and perform simulated space missions. [56]

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 [57] (although the catalog incorrectly lists lot 68A as Luna 17/Lunokhod 1). [58] Garriott notes that while UN treaties ban governmental ownership of property off earth, corporations and private citizens retain such rights. Lunokhod 2 is still in use with mirrors aligned to bounce lasers such that precise earth moon distances can be measured. With his vehicle "still in use", Garriott claims property rights to the territory surveyed by Lunokhod 2. This may be the first valid claim for private ownership of extraterrestrial territory. [59] Lunokhod 2 held the distance record for miles traveled on another planetary body, until surpassed by the NASA Opportunity Rover in 2014. [60]

Garriott acted as corner man for professional boxer and friend Jesús Chávez in his first title defense against Erik Morales in 2004. [61]

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. [62] The issue featured an article about an event hosted at Garriott's home involving several of the world's best magicians. [63]

While not directly related to stage magic, Garriot is a fan of the collectible card game Magic: The Gathering, and designed a card in the Magic 2015 expansion set.

Garriott built a haunted house/museum at his residence called Britannia Manor in Austin, Texas.

Garriott promotes private space flight as vice-chairman of the board of directors for Space Adventures.

Garriott is a trustee of the X PRIZE Foundation. [64]

Garriott performed the first Zero-G wedding on June 20, 2009. [65]

Garriott's collections were 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. [66]

Garriott received an Honorary Doctorate of Science from Queen Mary University London in 2011. [67]

Garriott provided vocals for a track on the Shooter Jennings 2016 album Countach. [68]

Garriott is an adviser of SpaceVR, a virtual reality space exploration company. [69]

Garriott is an advocate of Personal rapid transit and the system used at London's Heathrow Airport. [70]

Richard and wife Laetitia Garriott de Cayeux had their first child, Kinga Shuilong Garriott de Cayeux, on June 30, 2012. [71] Their second child, Ronin Phi Garriott de Cayeux, was born on July 28, 2014.



Game nameFirst releasedGarriott's role(s)
D&D#1 1977Game designer & programmer
Akalabeth: World of Doom 1979Game designer & programmer
Ultima I: The First Age of Darkness 1981Original conceptor, programmer & graphic artist
Ultima II: The Revenge of the Enchantress 1982Game designer
Ultima III: Exodus 1983Project director
Ultima IV: Quest of the Avatar 1985Project director
Autoduel 1985Programmer & designer
Ultima V: Warriors of Destiny 1988Designer, writer & programmer
Omega 1989Designer
Ultima VI: The False Prophet 1990Designer, producer, sound effect worker, writer & voice actor
Worlds of Ultima: The Savage Empire 1990Executive producer
Ultima: Worlds of Adventure 2: Martian Dreams 1991Creative director
Ultima: Runes of Virtue 1991Creative director
Ultima Underworld: The Stygian Abyss 1992Director & voice actor
Ultima VII: The Black Gate 1992Director & producer
Ultima VII: Forge of Virtue 1993Creative assistance & producer
Ultima VII Part Two: Serpent Isle 1993Creative director & audio team member
Ultima VII Part Two: The Silver Seed 1993Director & voice actor
Ultima Underworld II: Labyrinth of Worlds 1993Director & voice actor
Ultima VIII: Pagan 1994Producer
Ultima: Runes of Virtue II 1994Creative director & additional design
Ultima VIII: The Lost Vale CancelledProducer
BioForge 1995Executive producer
Ultima Online 1997Producer
Ultima Online: The Second Age 1998Executive designer
Lineage 1998Executive producer
Ultima IX: Ascension 1999Director
Lineage II 2003Executive producer
City of Heroes 2004Executive producer
City of Villains 2005Executive management
Tabula Rasa 2007Executive producer
Shroud of the Avatar: Forsaken Virtues 2018Creative director

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