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Not long after returning from space, noted Ultima creator Richard Garriott found himself jettisoned from NCsoft after the failure of his massively multiplayer online role-playing game Tabula Rasa. However, he then went on to form the social-gaming venture Portalarium. As part of the 2011 DICE Summit today, Garriott recounted his famous trip to space in a session titled "Achieving the Impossible - Creating Games and Gateways to Space!"
Garriott began his session by saying that creating games and going to space are actually interrelated, in that the passion to achieve both is very much the same. For him, building virtual worlds and building the industries that will lead to space exploration were both about opening up doors of possibility.
Garriott said the journeys that led him to space and led him into the field of Tabula Rasa Credits development were very much the same, as they were both inspired by his parents. His father, who was an engineer, nurtured his interest in technology, while his mother, an artist, helped him to tap into his creative side. The quintessential high-tech art he believes is computer games, and he had the perfect family backdrop to meld these two pursuits.
He said that he started writing games that were a lot like the Ultima series on a TeleType, and the single-player role-playing games that were the Ultima series represented the first era in gaming. This era culminated for him with Ultima Online, which took the experiences to the multiplayer realm. His new company, Portalarium, is an effort to tap into the third era of social gaming he said, proclaiming that each of these new eras has been accompanied by a swelling of the gamer population.
Switching the discussion to his time aboard the International Space Station in 2008, Garriott said that he has used the wealth generated from the gaming industry to go out and explore the actual world. These journeys have led him also to the Titanic's wreckage, Antarctica, and expeditions within the Amazon and Africa.
He said that growing up, the Holy Grail for him has always been space, but he learned early on that his poor eyesight would rule him ineligible to join the NASA program. However, this challenged him to go and invent a civilian space agency. His first investments toward the privatization of space flight were complete catastrophes, he said, but eventually he got in with a group of serial entrepreneurs who build companies designed to open up new frontiers.