Video Games in Space Nixed Over Fears of Space Station HackingS

Richard Garriott, the first video game designer to ride a rocket to outer space, wanted to play a massively multiplayer video game from the International Space Station. And he wanted to bring his iPod. Neither happened.

Garriott's gaming plan was to play his then-still-active computer game Tabula Rasa from the International Space Station, logging onto a computer and playing with people down on Earth. He traveled to the space station in 2008 as one of the world's only self-funded space tourists.

"I looked into taking Tabula Rasa into space," he told Kotaku during an interview at the DICE gaming summit just outside of Las Vegas last week. "There's Internet on the space station. We actually originally were pursuing trying to play live, from space, but it turns out that even though there is an IP (Internet protocol) pathway, they were so worried about people tunneling backwards to the ISS and wreaking havoc that it became a non-starter."

That's right, gamers. According to Garriott, the powers that be in some space agency thought that you would try to cheat your way into taking control of the space station. We all know you'd never do that.

Garriott's a big iPhone gamer these days, but he didn't take that to space to idle the time away either. "It turns out that to to take an iPhone to space or even an iPod is problematic," he explained. "They make you take the battery out and all kinds of crap. It's a pain in the ass."

Note that the iPod has been to space. Garriott filled in the details and revealed the spending limits of a man who will pay millions to fly to space on a Russian rocket: "Somebody had paid tens of thousands of dollars to get one of the oldest versions of the iPod [certified] to go into space. If you took that one, you had to have the lithium battery pulled out, because, hypothetically, it's a fire hazard — it's not really; it's actually much worse after you crack the whole thing open, rip the battery out and put wires into it — but anyway, it costs you so much money to even take the iPod, it just wasn't worth it." To bring a newer iPod would cost even more money, because the new device would need to be certified all over again, he said.

So the game designer who went to space took no video games with him.

This game designer has been on other adventures, too. Recently, he appeared on the Martha Stewart show to display his collection of automatons. He may have brought his iPhone with him there, but, at DICE, Garriott confirmed to Kotaku that he didn't play video games with Ms. Stewart.

Garriott's gone far, but video games have not always been along for the ride.