The creators of an Edmonton-based video game developing company recognized Thursday with one of the highest honours in Canada.
Dr. Ray Muzyka and Dr. Greg Zeschuk are among the 103 new appointments to the Order of Canada for their work in creating and developing the video game company BioWare.
The two men were medical doctors before teaming up to start the company in 1995 in Edmonton. During the following 17 years, BioWare created a number of the industry’s most popular role-playing games, including Baldur’s Gate, Star Wars Knights of the Old Republic, Dragon Age and Mass Effect.
The company also built partnerships with LucasArts/LucasFilm, Microsoft and Electronic Arts that helped it to grow. In 2007, BioWare was purchased by Electronic Arts.
“It’s truly a great honour to be named as a Member of the Order of Canada; it’s particularly humbling when I consider the other esteemed recipients of the award, past and present,” Muzyka said. “I’m very thankful for the support of my family, and for being able to work with so many amazing friends and colleagues over my three career chapters to date.”
“Being named as a member of the Order of Canada is an immense honour, and it’s something I never expected to receive,” Zeschuk said. “Throughout my careers, I’ve had the great fortune to meet and work with great friends, colleagues and teammates, and this has consistently proven to be its own reward.”
After leaving BioWare in 2012, Muzyka founded ThresholdImpact, a company that encourages socially responsible, sustainable change by mentoring, advising and investing in social entrepreneurs focused on information technology, healthtech and medical innovations. He is also an angel investor and entrepreneurial mentor.
“I will strive to continue working to help build a greater Canada and a better world in the future through my ongoing mentorship work with social entrepreneurs, and as an active impact angel investor at ThresholdImpact,” Muzyka said.
Since leaving BioWare, Zeschuk started a YouTube channel called The Beer Diaries that focuses on craft beer. He also has served as the first executive director of the Alberta Small Brewers Association.
It led him to build the Ritchie Market in Edmonton, which houses his own brewery, Blind Enthusiasm Brewing Company, and restaurant, Biera, as well as a second brewery, The Monolith, that focuses on the barrel-fermentation of beer.
He also returned to the game industry as the chairman of Biba, an app launched in 2015 that uses colorful robot animations and achievement tracking to motivate children to engage outdoors.
“I’ve benefited enormously from the support of my family and the community around me,” Zeschuk said. “I look forward to contributing to my local community, as well as doing my small part in having a positive impact on Canada in the future.”
Zeshuk also participates in local fundraisers and serves on a number of boards.
Muzyka is a member of the Board of Governors of the University of Alberta, founding chair of the University of Alberta’s Venture Monitoring Service, as well as other initiatives.