Ben Noel was part of a team that would develop a video game that has a special place in the industry’s history.
Ultima Online was released in 1997 as one of the first massively multiplayer online role playing games while Noel was part of Electronic Arts’ Origin Studios, which created the title.
He was lured by the appeal of trying to create a networked world that connected hundreds of thousands of players to each other.
“That sounded a lot different than a video game,” he said.
Today, the MMORPG category includes several well known titles like World of Warcraft, Neverwinter and Elder Scrolls.
Meanwhile, Noel has moved on from his Electronic Arts career and now serves as the director of University of Central Florida’s FIEA, one of the highest ranked video game development schools in the U.S.
We talked to him about his career in the video game industry and what it was like to build in the early years of online gaming, including how he helped a U.S. Navy veteran understand the coming digital age.