Richard Garriott Reflects on Forty Years of Game Development

Gamelab Barcelona may be over, but GamesBeat only just got around — well, “just” as in “late July”, but I’m still getting caught up after the birth of Dragonlet #4 — to posting a transcript of an interview they conducted with Richard Garriott at that event. It’s a fairly wide-ranging discussion, as the introduction thereto suggests:

Richard Garriott has had a wonderful life in video games. But the founder of Portalarium and creator of the Ultima series has also done quite a bit outside of video games, with enough adventures to last five lifetimes.

He coached a featherweight boxing champion. He almost starved during a journey on the Amazon River. He almost had a fatal rock climbing accident. He had to pull a gun on an overly enthusiastic fan who broke into his home in Austin, Texas. Yet, he creates legendary haunted houses for Halloween, welcoming everybody into his home. Like his father before him, Garriott journeyed into space. While he was up there, he showed a secret message to his Tabula Rasa online game fans while on a communications link back to Earth. And he journeyed to the bottom of the sea to get a close-up look at the Titanic.

Garriott published his first video game, Akalabeth, in 1979 while he was still in high school. He went on to create Ultima I: The Age of Darkness in 1981. The fantasy role-playing game led to a long career in games and spawned his studio Origin Systems. He and his brother Robert made numerous Ultima games and eventually sold the company to Electronic Arts in 1992. While at EA, he created the groundbreaking massively multiplayer online role-playing game (MMORPG) Ultima Online.

Garriott left EA to found Destination Games in 2000, and he sold the company to NCSoft in 2001. Garriott worked on the sci-fi online game Tabula Rasa, which debuted in 2007. The game didn’t sell as well as hoped, and Garriott left NCSoft in 2008. In 2009, he founded Portalarium, and raised $11.6 million via crowdfunding for Shroud of the Avatar: Forsaken Virtues. Recently, he started an additional equity crowdfunding campaign for the game.

Garriott chronicled his life in Explore/Create: My Life in Pursuit of New Frontiers, Hidden Worlds, and the Creative Spark earlier this year. I interviewed Garriott onstage at the Gamelab event in Barcelona, Spain, where he received the Honor Award from the Spanish Academy of Interactive Arts and Sciences.

You’ll want to click on through to read the whole thing.