Space Adventurer Sues for Losing Earth Job

Millionaire Richard Garriott says game company let him go during a "quarantine call"

Space tourism hazards don’t usually include losing your day job, but that’s apparently what happened to geek millionaire Richard Garriott. The game designer is suing the company NCsoft for $24 million, based on the claim that NCsoft wrongly defined his departure as voluntary and forced him to sell off company stock options early.

The lawsuit puts a new twist on Garriott’s space adventure last fall. As the son of former astronaut Owen Garriott, Richard turned to game design after his poor eyesight disqualified him from following his father’s path, and then earned millions by founding his own game publishing company and creating games like “Ultima Online.

That allowed the younger Garriott to pay his way into space and blast off on a Russian Soyuz spacecraft to visit the International Space Station in October 2008. He even did promotional tie-ins in space for his new massively multiplayer game, Tabula Rasa, which was published by NCsoft.

Despite this professional bond, Garriott received a call from NCsoft’s head of North American operations during his post-flight Russian quarantine; NCsoft had decided to terminate him, and took the liberty of posting a farewell message, supposedly written by the game designer.

“Many of you probably wonder what my plans are, now that I have achieved the lifelong dream of going to space,” the message read. “Well, that unforgettable experience has sparked some new interests that I would like to devote my time and resources to. As such, I am leaving NCsoft to pursue those interests.”

If what the lawsuit alleges is true, NCsoft “created false documentation indicating that Mr. Garriott had voluntarily resigned from his employment.” Garriott supposedly tried, repeatedly, to get that documentation changed to reflect his involuntary resignation, but in the end had to sell his company stock options off within 90 days, as he’d otherwise lose them. It’s probably not the life-changing experience that Garriott had in mind when he first looked toward space.

You can check out the full contents of the filed lawsuit here, courtesy of GamerPolitics.