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Garriott, Richard

Entry updated 12 September 2022. Tagged: Author, Game.

(1961-    ) US Game designer, inducted into the Academy of Interactive Arts and Sciences Hall of Fame in 2006. Garriott began working on Sword and Sorcery Videogames much influenced by the fantasy Role Playing Game Dungeons and Dragons (1974 Tactical Studies Rules) designed by Gary Gygax, Dave Arneson while attending high school. The first to be sold commercially was Akalabeth: World of Doom (1979) (see Computer Role Playing Games), a forerunner to the long-running series of fantasy CRPGs which began with Ultima (1981 AppleII; 1983 Atari8; 1986 rev vt Ultima I: The First Age of Darkness AppleII, C64; 1987 DOS; 1988 PC88, PC98; 1989 MSX). The Ultima sequence is remarkable for having spanned the entire history of commercial Computer Role Playing Game development, from Akalabeth through the three linked trilogies of games which comprise the main series and tell its continuing linear story to the highly influential early Massively Multiplayer Online Role Playing Game Ultima Online (1997), which is still played today. Individual games in the series each have a distinct design, and have often had a significant effect on the evolution of CRPGs in general. Many of Ultima's characters are well drawn and affecting, and its fantasy world is (if not especially original) fully realized, being much influenced by Garriott's experiences as a member of the medievalist Society for Creative Anachronism. Most fundamentally, Ultima games are characterized by their focus on creating a complete, consistent universe in which everything is interactive; if something can be seen, it is generally possible to use it, communicate with it or otherwise engage with it.

Perhaps the most significant aspect of Garriott's game designs has been his emphasis on the importance of moral action, expressed by allowing players to make ethical choices with real consequences. This has been a common theme in the Ultima series since Ultima IV: Quest of the Avatar (1985) (see Computer Role Playing Games) and is also prominent in Tabula Rasa (2007). Garriott has largely devoted himself to Ultima's fantasy world of Britannia rather than science fiction, but also designed the well-regarded early sf Computer Role Playing Game Autoduel (1985) (see Car Wars) and Tabula Rasa. Some work – including Autoduel – is credited to "Lord British", his alter ego in Britannia. More recently, he has become an astronaut on the International Space Station with the "space tourism" company Space Adventures, launched on board a Russian Soyuz on 12 October 2008 and returning on 24 October 2008, making him the first professional creator of science fiction to actually enter outer (as opposed to inner) space. [NT]

see also: Worlds of Ultima.

Richard Allen Garriott

born July 1961


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