This past weekend I attended Dragon Con in Atlanta. This is one of the largest sci-fi/fantasy and pop culture conventions in the U.S. All week I’ll be bringing you coverage from the con.
First thing Saturday morning, I met up with Richard Garriott and Starr Long to talk about their history in the video game industry, inventing an entire genre and establishing Ultima Online as the dominant force in MMORPG games, and now their new venture Shroud of the Avatar. We talked about teaming up with Tracy Hickman to write the backstory for Shroud, crowd funding, how technology has changed gaming and story telling and much more.
Richard Garriott de Cayeux is a founding father of the video game industry and the commercial spaceflight industry, a flown astronaut, and an accomplished explorer.
He has been inducted into the computer gaming hall of fame and has received the industry lifetime achievement award. He is credited with creating the now ubiquitous term “avatar” for one’s virtual self and the category of massively multiplayer games (MMORPGs). He authored the acclaimed Ultima Series and has built 3 leading gaming companies: Origin Systems (sold to Electronic Arts), Destination Games (sold to NCsoft) and Portalarium where he is building Shroud of the Avatar, the successor to his previous works.
As a principal shaper of the commercial spaceflight industry, he co-founded Space Adventures, the only company to arrange space flights for private citizens and is the sixth private astronaut to live aboard the International Space Station. The son of a NASA astronaut, he became the first second-generation astronaut and has been a key leader in civilian and commercial space as an investor and Board member of institutions such as the X-Prize Foundation, Space Adventures, and Planetary Resources.
Richard is an avid explorer, having traveled around the globe from the jungles of the Amazon to the South Pole, the deep seas of the Titanic and hydrothermal vents to orbiting the earth aboard the International Space Station. His non-profit and philanthropic works include serving on the boards of The Explorers Club and The Challenger Center for Science Education.
Richard lives with his wife Laetitia, also an entrepreneur, and their two children, Kinga Shuilong & Ronin Phi.
His new book, Explore/Create, chronicles his life from the early days of video gaming, through his spaceflight and to the present day.
Starr Long is an American game developer, a long time collaborator with “Lord British” (Richard Garriott) at the companies Origin Systems (1992–2000), Destination Games (2000–2008), and Portalarium (2013–present). In 1997, Long was the original director of the early graphical multiplayer game Ultima Online, and from 2008–2013 he was executive producer at The Walt Disney Company, where he created and managed several educational games and apps for Club Penguin and the Disney Connected Learning platform. In early 2008, he was listed as one of the Top 20 Most Influential People in the MMO industry. As of 2013, he is again partnered with Garriott at Portalarium, where they are working on the new game Shroud of the Avatar.