Science Fair Project Encyclopedia
Richard Allen Garriott (born July 4, 1961; nickname Lord British) is a significant figure in the video game industry. He was originally a game designer and programmer, but now engages in various aspects of computer game development.
Garriott was born in Cambridge, England, a son of Skylab and Spacelab astronaut Owen K. Garriott and was raised in Houston, Texas. In high school, he took an interest in computers and began self-directed courses in programming in which he created fantasy computer games. He also gained his "Lord British" nickname from older students at his school who thought he spoke with a British accent.
Richard continued programming many games, often just offering them to friends for free. He produced his first published game, Akalabeth, in the summer of 1980 while working at a ComputerLand retail store. Garriott earned more than enough money from Akalabeth to pay to continue his education. In the fall, he entered the University of Texas, joined the school's fencing team and later joined the Society for Creative Anachronism.
In the early 1980s, Garriott developed the Ultima computer game series (sequels after the first were numbered, such as Ultima II, Ultima III and so on). Originally programmed for the Apple II, the first was published by California Pacific Computers , and sold in ziplock plastic bags to interested parties. The second part was published by Sierra On-Line. By the time he developed his third installment, the games had such a large following that Garriott (along with his brother, Robert, and father and others) established Origin Systems, their own video game publisher, to handle the publishing and distribution of his title, now available on several platforms. Origin went on to become one of the most influential game developers in video game history.
Garriott sold Origin to Electronic Arts in September 1992. For the most part, this did not directly impact development from a gamer's standpoint. But in 1999 and 2000, turmoil became apparent when EA cancelled all of Origin's new development projects, including Ultima Online 2, Privateer Online, and Harry Potter Online. In the midst of these events, Garriott resigned from the company he had created. He 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 currently acts as a producer and designer of MMORPGs.
Now a multi-millionaire, Garriott built a "haunted house"/museum as 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.
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