Hilltop Estate Is Like Living in a Video Game -- With Good Reason


With a style that's part castle, part playground, part observatory and all fantasy, it's no surprise to learn that this Austin, Texas, home is the creation of a noted video game developer, Richard Garriott. Originally constructed as a more-or-less conventional home in 1987, Garriott added secret rooms -- starting with a dungeon -- and a maze of hidden passages until the 4,790-square-foot home, dubbed Britannia Manor II, resembled nothing so much as a videogame-turned-reality. "A lot of my games include portals or gateways," Garriott told HGTV, which lead to "fantasy worlds, just like the experience of going through the house." That could make a bargain for the right video game fanatic.

The tri-level house went on the market at the end of 2011 priced at $4.1 million but is now offered at nearly half that price, $2.4 million, reports Realtor.com. It's hilltop location is described in its listing as occupying three lots on 3.99 acres, with four bedrooms, five bathrooms, a foyer, formal living room, office, pantry, utility room, wine room, library and game room -- though (after viewing the gallery below) if you think the fun and games aren't confined to one room, you're probably right. Observe the water slide on its exterior, and note that its two pools -- one indoors and the other out -- are connected so that bathers can swim from one to the other.

Is it any surprise that Garriott made the manor the scene of legendary parties, especially around Halloween? "I don't get to see people's faces while they play my games," he told Wired back in 2007, on the eve of one of his extravaganzas. "But tonight I'll get the benefits of a live performance. My parties are where the virtual meets the tangible."

In terms of resale, though, the price cut on his home suggests that Garriott lately met the harsh reality that often comes with an over-the-top remodel: It's unlikely to pay off as an investment unless you can find a buyer who shares your particular tastes -- even if it's in line with something as wildly popular as video gaming. (Witness the fate of New York's "steampunk loft," which didn't sell until it was stripped of its trendy retro-futuristic decor.)

Despite the $1.7 discount on Brittania II, though, Garriott apparently is ready to take his home-design fantasies to the next level. Realtor.com reports that he's "building an even more over-the-top Texas castle, which will be christened Brittania III."

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