Journey Onward

The Texas Story Project.

Richard Garriott has been making video games his whole life, and is considered one of the founding fathers of the video game industry.

He entered high school in 1974, and taught himself to code by making games, starting by using the Teletype and later the Apple II to create a game he subtitled Akalabeth—the first video game that showed three-dimensional graphics. 

At the turn of the 1980s, he began work on the Ultima series, a long-running series of games. Garriott’s hallmark was using virtue and values in his games, and he always strived to use the art of video games to tell deep and meaningful stories.

When the internet became widely used in the 1990s, he used it to create multi-player online environments with Ultima IV, the first game to bring together tens of thousands, then hundreds of thousands, and later millions of gamers to play with each other in a virtual world.

Every step of the way, Richard Garriott collected: magic props, architectural antiques, children’s games, 35mm film rolls from the birth of the industry, and, of course, every note, line of code, and detail from his own work in video games.

Today, the video game industry is growing to be bigger than all other media combined. Many modern games, in Garriott’s view, use new computing power to sell “bells and whistles,” but, he notes, “while they will sell great, I do not believe they will be remembered, because they are very quickly surpassed by the next generation of bells and whistles.”

Richard Garriott continues to draw inspiration from beyond the gaming industry itself, using his interests in history, science, culture, and philosophy, to strive to make games that are original, compelling, and lasting.

Editor's note: This story was produced by the Bullock Museum for the Texas Story Project. It complements the exhibition Pong to Pokémon: The Evolution of Electronic Gaming, on view July 29, 2017 to March 18, 2018.

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