Why is Richard Garriott (AKA Lord British) Important?
Next to Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings and Gygax /Arneson’s Dungeons and Dragons, Garriott is one of the most instrumental figures in innovating the popularizing the video game RPGs we know today. Although it’s hard to pinpoint “firsts” in gaming, Garriott arguably created the first 3D RPG Akalabeth (1979), the first open world RPG Ultima (1981), the first popular MMORPG Ultima Online, and even coined the term MMORPG. Unlike Tolkien, Gygax, and Arneson Garriott is still around and contributing to the RPG genre today.
Learn about why Richard Garriott is important, according to Richard Garriott.
FACT: It’s likely that Garriott was the first to use the term “Avatar” for Ultima IV: Quest of the Avatar (1985). In the same year, Lucasfilms created one of the first modern multiplayer games Habitat, which allowed players to create avatars.
The History of Garriott and RPGs
Richard Garriott’s impact on RPG gaming can be traced to his early adoption of Dungeons and Dragons (being one of the first to get the rule-set), although according to Garriott himself, his initial inspiration for RPGs came from his love of building haunted houses. He described the haunted worlds he built and his participation in them as ‘Live Action Role Playing’ (LARPing).
Early Video Game RPGs
Garriott’s LARPing (before LARPing was cool) and early adoption of D&D, mixed with the fact that he was an early game developer, resulted in him creating some of the very first video game RPGs. His early video game work during the rise of home computing like Akalabeth (summer 1979), which was probably the first 3D RPG, and Ultima (1981) probably the first open world game.
Ultima and the 80’s and 90’s
Throughout the 80’s and 90’s, Garriott released a string of popular games in the Ultima series. The Ultima games became some of the most popular RPGs of that era.
Richard Garriott interview with game informer from 2014.
Life After Ultima
During the 2000’s Garriott’s Tabula Rasa failed to gain the acclaim of some of his early work, despite moderate success. Today Garriott is working on the spiritual successor to Ultima called Lord British’s Shroud of the Avatar: Forsaken Virtues. You can join the KickStarter campaign here.
First impressions of pre-Alpha Shroud of the Avatar: Forsaken Virtues.
FACT: Garriott was LARPing before anyone even knew what Dungeons and Dragons was. He also became the first American to become a second-generation space traveler when he went to space on October 12, 2008. Nerdy side note: The first Ultima game lets you go to outer-space (there was extra room on the disk Garriott wanted to use), how meta.
Richard Garriott documents his trip to space in MAN ON A MISSION: Richard Garriott’s Road to the Stars.
Games Garriott Has Worked On
Below is a list of games Garriott has worked on from Wikipedia:
|Game name||First released||Garriott’s role(s)|
|D&D#1||1977||Game designer & programmer|
|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|
|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: 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||Cancelled||Producer|
|Ultima Online: The Second Age||1998||Executive designer|
|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||2015||Creative director|
Beyond his work in RPGs Garriott also has a long list of accolades outside of gaming. The list from Wikipedia includes:
- In 1986, Garriott helped start the Challenger Center for Space Science Education.
- Garriott bought the Luna 21 lander and the Lunokhod 2 rover (both currently on the lunar surface) from the Lavochkin Association for $68,500 in December 1993 at a Sotheby’s auction in New York.
- Garriott acted as the corner man for the professional boxer and friend Jesús Chávez in his first title defense against Erik Morales in 2004.
- 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.
- 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.
- Garriott performed the first Zero-G wedding on June 20, 2009.
- 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.
- Garriott received an Honorary Doctorate of Science from Queen Mary University London in 2011.
- Garriott provided vocals for a track on the Shooter Jennings 2016 album Countach.
- Garriott is an adviser of SpaceVR, a virtual reality space exploration company.
- Garriott is an advocate of Personal rapid transit and the system used at London’s Heathrow Airport.
Awards (Also from WikiPedia)
- Garriott was named Ernst & Young Entrepreneur of the Year Award in 1992.
- Garriott was named one of the “15 Most Influential Players” by Computer Gaming World.
- Garriott was inducted into the Computer Gaming World Hall of Fame.
- Garriott was named “Designer of the Year” by PC Gamer.
- Garriott was named “Game God” by PC Gamer in 1999.
- Garriott became the ninth inductee into the Academy of Interactive Arts and Sciences’ Hall of Fame in 2006.
- Garriott became the sixth recipient of the Game Developers Choice Lifetime Achievement Award in 2006.
- Garriott was named an “Industry Legend” at the UK Develop Conference in 2007.
- Garriott received the British Interplanetary Society’s Sir Arthur Clarke Award for Best Individual Achievement in 2009.
- Garriott received the British Interplanetary Society’s Astronaut Pin given to British-born astronauts in 2009.
- Garriott received the Society of NASA Flight Surgeons Lovelace Award for Contributions to Space Medicine in 2009.
- Garriott was inducted into the Environmental Hall of Fame in 2010.