Richard Garriott believes you’re never too young to go on an adventure.
That’s why he organized a team of young explorers — including his own children, then 3 and 5 years old — to travel to the North Pole in April.
Garriott displayed a city of Austin flag once the group reached its destination, and his family presented that flag to Mayor Steve Adler on Tuesday.
“I think I got the better part of this trade,” Adler said as he handed each child a Mayor’s Challenge Coin to thank them.
Garriott made his fortune in the Austin video-game design scene, co-founding Origin Systems, one of Austin’s most successful video-game companies. Origin Systems, which was eventually bought by Electronic Arts, ushered in a golden age of computer gaming with franchises such as “Ultima” and “Wing Commander,” games still fondly remembered, played and highly ranked in lists of the top digital games of all time.
The son of astronaut Owen Garriott, Richard Garriott is an explorer in his own right. He has visited the wreckage of the RMS Titanic, been outside Earth’s atmosphere as a guest to the International Space Station and hunted for meteorites in Antarctica.
Garriott’s now 6-year-old daughter, Kinga Garriott de Cayeux, chattered happily with the mayor about the North Pole trip, from her excitement at seeing a seal to her fear of the ice below her feet.
“I was a little scared that everything would crack the second day and I would fall into the water,” she told Adler.
Her fears weren’t completely unfounded. Garriott and his kids traveled to Camp Barneo, a piece of drifting Arctic ice whose shape is ever-changing as the ice melts, refreezes and, yes, sometimes cracks.
The crew had to cut short the trip because the runway of ice began to crack, making the pilots of the plane in which they arrived nervous over the difficulty of their takeoff. They left a few days after arriving and made it back safely.
“There’s no age too young to start exploring,” said the children’s mom, Laetitia Garriott de Cayeux, who is a French-American tech entrepreneur. “It doesn’t need to be the North Pole. It can be their own back yard.”