BioWare founders awarded the Order of Canada for 'revolutionary' impact on videogames

Image credit: CBC

Greg Zeschuk and Ray Muzyka co-founded BioWare in Edmonton, Alberta, in 1995, shortly after graduating from medical school. Its first game, Shattered Steel, was a modest success, but the second is the one that put it on the map: Baldur's Gate was a major hit that led into an even bigger sequel, other much-loved D&D-based RPGs, two of the best Star Wars games ever, Dragon Age, Mass Effect, and more. 

Today, for their "revolutionary contributions to the videogame industry as a developer and co-founder of an internationally renowned studio," Her Excellency the Right Honorable Julie Payette, Governor General of Canada (it's all a very formal thing) named them members of the Order of Canada, "the cornerstone of the Canadian honors system."

"[The award] was shocking," Zeschuk told CBC News. "We just try to do great stuff and try and help people and try and work with great people and build things, and to be recognized for that is really an amazing honor." 

Muzyka attributed the studio's success to the quality of its employees, who "made every day a joy just to come to work." 

"That's always been something I think both of us have felt—surround ourselves with people who are smarter than us and passionate and bright, just sparks that you can learn from and grow with," he said. "We always tried to treat everybody we worked with with great respect." 

Zeschuk and Muzyka left BioWare, and the games industry, in 2012, five years after the studio's acquisition by Electronic Arts. They've both remained in the Edmonton area, however: Zeschuk founded a brewpub in the city and is involved in various charitable efforts, while Muzyka founded ThresholdImpact, which encourages "sustainable, profitable impact investing," and is the chair of the Alberta Research and Innovation Advisory Committee. 

"It's not just what we did at BioWare, it's what we continue to do to try to make everything around us better," Zeschuk said. "I think that's a key part of it, how we do it and how our philosophy around making a business and building businesses and working with people, building people up." 

The Order of Canada was established in 1967 to recognize "outstanding achievement, dedication to the community and service to the nation" across all sectors of Canadian society. 

Andy covers the day-to-day happenings in the big, wide world of PC gaming—the stuff we call "news." In his off hours, he wishes he had time to play the 80-hour RPGs and immersive sims he used to love so much.