"MEN WANTED FOR HAZARDOUS JOURNEY. SMALL WAGES, BITTER COLD, LONG MONTHS OF COMPLETE DARKNESS, CONSTANT DANGER, SAFE RETURN DOUBTFUL. HONOR AND RECOGNITION IN CASE OF SUCCESS."
- Computer gaming pioneer Richard Garriott once again finds himself in the nexus of the electronic entertainment industry. In 2009, Richard co-founded Portalarium, an Austin, TX-based startup that is creating games for the burgeoning mobile and social media landscape. While the company’s first entries are casino games such as poker and blackjack, games currently under development will expand into other genres including role-playing games (RPGs) which Garriott made his province in the 1980s and 1990s.
- He had early successes designing games in high school and college, but things took off in 1983 when Richard and his brother, Robert, established Origin Systems, Inc. The company, based in Austin, was recognized as one of the innovation leaders in the world of entertainment software. Richard’s Ultima series of RPGs became one of the top-selling computer game series of all time. In 1992, Origin was acquired by Electronic Arts (EA).
- In 1997, Richard and his team created a new genre with the technologically groundbreaking title, Ultima Online. Ultima Online’s continued success is measured by the hundreds of thousands of people who enjoy playing the game from all over the world, and by the explosion of online games that has followed since its release.
- Richard retired from Origin in April of 2000 and formed Destination Games with his brother Robert. In 2001, Destination Games became part of NCsoft, where Richard continued to develop innovative new products.
- Over his career as a computer game designer Richard has been honored with numerous awards including Entrepreneur of the Year from Inc. magazine and Computer Gaming World’s 15 Most Influential Industry Players. In 2006 Richard was awarded with two industry honors for his work in the games business: selection into The Academy of Interactive Arts and Sciences Hall of Fame and the Lifetime Achievement Award at the Game Developers Choice Awards.
- In October of 2008, Richard realized a lifelong dream to travel to space when he launched aboard a Russian Soyuz spacecraft to the International Space Station and became the sixth private citizen to fly in Earth’s orbit. In doing so, Richard became the first second-generation American in space, following the same path of his father Owen Garriott, who completed two space missions in his NASA career.
- Having caught the space bug as a child from his father, Richard has held a passion towards the space industry and has invested in various related ventures such as the Zero-G Corporation, X-Prize and Spacehab. Richard is currently chairman of Space Adventures, Ltd., the world’s premier private space exploration company. He has even participated in many space simulated training activities such as Zero-G parabolas, centrifuge simulations of Soyuz launches and landings, and Mig 25 flights to the edge of space.
- Today Richard is recognized as one of the leading authorities on commercial space travel and is a member of the NASA Advisory Council.
- TALK ABOUT YOUR BACKGROUND...
- In 1979, I first came here to attend the University of Texas, and immediately knew that this is where I wanted to make my home.
- Since most of my work has been in the computer gaming industry, I've had the luxury of going all the way back to the beginning of the computer game industry. And that means that I have been the programmer, the writer, the artist, the designer, the audio engineer, the manufacturer, the shipper -- I've been all those parts.
- WHAT'S GOING ON A PORTALARIUM?
- So we really have a series of products that we'll be releasing out with Portalarium, and our first one we call Ultimate Collector. In addition to being a role playing fan and a bit of an explorer, myself, if you come out to my house, you'll see that I am somewhat of an avid collector.
- And the category of collecting has in fact proven to be popular on the current round of television shows. In fact, we're working on a collecting television show to go along with this game.
- But right on the heels of Ultimate Collector, we're now working on what we generally call Lord British's Ultimate Role Playing Game, which is really the spiritual successor to all of my previous work.
- WHAT DRIVES THE EXPLORER IN YOU?
- You know, I grew up in a household with my father as an astronaut, who left the earth, and my neighbors all were astronauts. So travel in space seemed not only likely, it seemed common in a sense, and something that everyone should be able to participate in.
- And so, when I decided that I really would love to go, not only to space, but the South Pole, go down to the Titanic, those didn't seem -- even though there were no companies or ways that you could pull that off, it didn't seem that unreasonable. It just seemed like all you have to do to go there is help bring into existence the capability to do it, and so I began to partner with other like-minded people and we built a succession of the world's most extreme travel companies, you might say.
- So, we started the X Prize, which was a $10 million price for the first private vehicles to go twice to space, and a company called Space Adventures to book the travel for people to go to space. We've already now sent eight flights, seven people -- because one guy went twice -- and myself, who I flew as our sixth client. When I flew it made me the first second-generation astronaut, and I flew in space with the first second-generation cosmonaut.
- WHAT ROLE DOES FAILURE PLAY IN ENTREPRENEURSHIP?
- When you reach a true roadblock or failure, what I think is important is how you reflect on that failure. If you've failed for reasons you can identify, and if you can develop a strategy you believe would overcome that roadblock or failure, then if there is something you're passionate about there is no reason you shouldn't pick yourself back up and go again.
- I don't know of any entrepreneur here in Austin who has had a failure that people don't look at and still admire them, and still go, "Dude, you made a good run at it. And whenever you're ready to pick up again, I'll give you my pocket change to help you go again because I saw how you went at it the first time. I believe in your passion. I believe in your strategy and guess what? There were some unknowns that tripped us up in this case, but go at it again."
- And I think that's one of the real magics of this city is how everyone who lives here feels like they are a member of this community, and that comes with a sense of joy and responsibility to continue to add to this incredible gem of a city that we have here.