I present to you, Austin’s fifth gift to the world: Gaming.
Austin was home to two well known gaming franchises in the early 1980′s. Richard Garriott, aka Lord British, founded Origin Systems here in Austin and produced the Ultima titles and the Wing Commander series. Origin was bought by Electronic Arts in 1992, one of many local gaming companies to be acquired in the last 10 years. Digital Anvil, an Origin spinoff, was acquired by Microsoft in 2000. The Austin Chronicle’s Marc Savlov wrote a great round-up article on the Austin game development scene in November of 2004.
Steve Jackson Games was founded in Austin in 1980. They’re famous for their role playing and strategy games like Car Wars and current hit, Munchkin. The company started a support BBS (that’s Bulletin Board Service for all you kids out there) for their games in 1986, which eventually morphed into one of Austin’s early internet service providers. A secret service raid on the aforementioned service in 1990 was a catalyst for the formation of the Electronic Frontier Foundation.
Those buying modern gaming systems from Alienware now have a connection to Austin since Dell acquired them. You might have heard of Dell. They’re in a neck-and-neck battle with HP for bragging rights as the largest computer vendor in the world. They’ve cooled off a bit in the last several years, but they were on fire on the 90′s. AMD, the computer chip maker, also has a major presence here in Austin.
Lastly, an IBM processor design team here in Austin played a major role in designing the cell processor that’s currently shipping in the new Playstation 3 console that’s so desirable, people are willing to shoot each other for the privilege of paying $600 for it.
When you unwrap that new game this holiday season, there’s a pretty good chance that it somehow has ties to Austin’s gaming and technology industry.