Lord British himself, Richard Garriott, has won a US$28 million lawsuit against game developers NCsoft Corp.
It seems that Garriott felt NCsoft didn't handle his 2008 departure from the company in the appropriate manner - it came down to he said / they said: he said he was fired, NCsoft said he left voluntarily.
The "flamboyant" Lord British had just returned from space (no, really), and was in Russian quarantine after his trip to the International Space Station, when he claimed he received a call from an NCsoft executive. That call told him his days with the company were over, after several years of employment.
Garriott sued the developers, claiming that their actions cost him millions of dollars as he was forced to sell his stock options (more than 400,000 shares in NCsoft itself), in the middle of the Global Financial Crisis - a time when the stock market was severely depressed. His original agreement with NCsoft would have seen him left with up to 10 years to exercise his options in the event that they fired him.
An Austin District Court heard the trial for nearly four days, and the jury deliberated for three hours before coming to their decision. The court awarded Garriott the profit they had calculated he had lost by having to sell the stock so quickly - just more than half of the US$48 million Garriott had asked for.
NCsoft's lawyers aren't going to take this lying down, with a spokesperson explaining tha tthe company "will be considering all options for next steps in the legal process."
Garriott, on the other hand, released a statement:
"I am extremely pleased with the jury's decision
"The facts were clear that my departure from NCsoft was not voluntary. I am very pleased with the final award."
Richard Garriott is credited with coining the term "Massively Multiplayer Online Role-Playing Game" back in 1997, to describe what had previously been known as "graphical MUDs". He produced his first game in 1980, and shot to fame later that decade with the Ultima series. In the 1990s, he sold his independent studio, Origin Systems to Electronic Arts, leaving that company by 2000. He then founded Destination Games, which was later sold to NCsoft, where Garriott worked as a producer and designer of MMORPGs including the ill-fated Tabula Rasa.
We're not entirely sure what he's working on now, beyond public speaking engagements about his space adventure (Garriott was the first second-generation astronaut, following in his father's footsteps), and working on his social gaming project, Portalarium.
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Jimmy the Geek