For his DICE 2011 panel discussion, famed game developer and “private astronaut” Richard Garriott focused primarily on his work in trying make commercial space flight a reality, but also spoke, rather tenderly, about the connection between his fascination with space and his passion for interactive entertainment.
“The same passion that drives the creation of games, which is, in my mind, an exploration of the unknown, is the same drive that drives me to do terrestrial exploration, deep sea exploration, even space exploration,” Garriott explained. “Not just as an observer, but also to help build those industries. I’ve helped open up the doors to those environments so that all of us can go. Just like when we create games, we’re opening a door into these virtual worlds, so that we and our friends and our customers can go into those as well.”
“I consider myself an interactive storyteller, but my journey to get there, which kind of informs some of the other things I’ve done, has fairly clearly been caused by this interesting backdrop I had with my father being a NASA astronaut; my mom…she’s an artist…And when you think of the high-tech I got from my father, and the art I got from my mother, and you think of what is the quintessential high-tech art, I think it’s computer games.”
“So I kind of had a perfect family backdrop to get a chance to be one of the first people to step across the line when computers were first coming out. In fact, my first computers weren’t personal computers. I started writing games that were a lot like the Ultima series, five or 10 years before the Ultima series, on these teletypes, where it would literally print out asterisks for walls, spaces for corridors, and dollar signs for treasure, on strips of paper.”
Garriott went on to identify the era of Ultima, and similar “solo” games, as the first great era for games. “Then when online gaming, especially massively multiplayer gaming, came on the scene…and now we’re on the third grand era of games, which has a variety of names—social or casual games.”
While he didn’t provide any specifics on what exactly his next project will be, Garriott clearly indicated that it will very much live in the social/casual space.
“I’m already building my next virtual worlds, and my next ‘empire’ so to speak will be distributed in this new medium, so to speak, or the new way. Not only has the customer base grown by a factor of 10, but we finally have literally everyone on Earth is a gamer, all women, all men, all ages are finally now part of our market, so I think is a particularly exciting period for us as a games industry.”
Check back soon to see video of Richard Garriott's full DICE 2011 presentation.