Send Your Cheek Swab to Space

A new promotional contest for 'Tabula Rasa' sounds like the stuff of science fiction

That's Richard Garriott in training for his upcoming trip to space. Your DNA could ride shotgun.
That's Richard Garriott in training for his upcoming trip to space. Your DNA could ride shotgun.

Nobody panic, but Austin's resident video-gaming god, Richard Garriott, is fleeing the planet and taking with him enough DNA information to rebuild a chunk of humanity. If you think this sounds like a plotline to one of his many games, you'd be right. But if you think it sounds like a mad scientist's scheme come to fruition ... well, you wouldn't be too far off there, either.

With our sci-fi issue only a few weeks gone, it seems appropriate to continue bridging the gap between science nonfiction and the weirdness that logically follows. And it only gets easier as the 21st century marches on. In this case, when Garriott and his vehicle for creative whims, NCsoft, recognized that his upcoming visit to the International Space Station could be the perfect promotion for their most recent creation, an online game called Tabula Rasa (see Cooperative Play, Aug. 31, 2007), they decided to further blur the line between reality and the gaming world. However, to ensure there isn't War of the Worlds-style mania, allow a clarification: There is no race of aliens called the Bane coming to obliterate Earth's population like in the game. Then again, both Garriott and his Tabula Rasa alter ego, Gen. British, will be jumping into spaceships and bringing human DNA with them. Garriott will be rocketed into orbit as part of a commercial space-travel endeavor in real life (www.richardinspace.com), while simultaneously his fictional counterpart's spaceflight will serve (in the game, at least) as a fail-safe in case the Bane succeed in destroying humanity.

The fruit of the promotional brainstorm session was the idea to put data from Tabula Rasa – including character stats and appearance – along with personal messages from the players themselves on a hard drive and shoot them into space with Garriott, like a digital time capsule capturing this moment in gamer history. Even stranger/cooler, a handful of lucky online gamers will get their cheeks swabbed, get their DNA digitized, and have that info put on the "Immortality Drive" destined for the space station. Check out www.operationimmortality.com if you don't believe me.

What does this mean for you nonplayers – aside from a reasonable worry that aliens will find said DNA and use it to create a race of superclones to take over Earth? Well, if you want to get on board the DNA train to space, you better start playing Tabula Rasa now, and, conveniently, NCsoft will be offering a free trial all this month (www.rgtr.com/trial).

But bear these words from Garriott in mind: "Me taking this time capsule of genetic and player data to the safe haven of the International Space Station will mean that in the future, in case all of humanity is wiped out, we'll be able to rebuild humanity and life in the image of Tabula Rasa players, as well as with actual genetic information from the players who win this particular contest." Speaking as a gamer, I'd prefer to have any character from Tabula Rasa (alien-obliterating badasses all) re-created to defend the planet instead of my scrawny, pasty self. Clone the real me when you need someone who can nail all three solos in "November Rain" on Guitar Hero.  

READ MORE
More Richard Garriott
A First-Class Seat to Stargazing
A First-Class Seat to Stargazing
Beef & Pie Productions shines a light on Richard Garriott's space travel in 'Man on a Mission'

Marc Savlov, Aug. 7, 2009

More Tabula Rasa
Cooperative Play
Cooperative Play
Richard Garriott and his team at NCsoft unveil their new online game

Joey Seiler, Aug. 31, 2007

More by James Renovitch
Index Fest Announces Its Beer List
Index Fest Announces Its Beer List
The fest formally known as Untapped drops it like it's hops

May 2, 2017

Confessions of a Cheapskate Posing as an Environmentalist
Confessions of a Cheapskate Posing as an Environmentalist
Mother Earth better have my money

April 21, 2017

KEYWORDS FOR THIS STORY

Richard Garriott, Tabula Rasa, NCsoft

MORE IN THE ARCHIVES
NEWSLETTERS
AC Daily, Events and Promotions, Luvdoc Answers

Breaking news, recommended events, and more

Official Chronicle events, promotions, and giveaways

Updates for SXSW 2017

All questions answered (satisfaction not guaranteed)