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The BioWare doctors built games the nice way


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You could tell something was different about them. After all, they were doctors. Medical doctors. They liked playing fantasy role-playing games so much that they quit those jobs to start BioWare. They created early titles like Baldur's Gate I and II, Shattered Steel, and Neverwinter Nights. They stepped up to the big time as they made a huge bet on Microsoft's entry into the video-game business with the Xbox. They created memorable titles like Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic and Jade Empire. As they did so, they retained the titles of co-CEOs. They kept those titles even after they sold BioWare to Elevation Partners and then remained co-CEOs until recently under EA's management. Most of the time, they did their interviews jointly, and they didn't engage in mean-spirited trash talk. They kept a partnership going for more than two decades. That is a remarkable feat in an industry that has seen so many developers come and go.

They bet on Microsoft in backing their young producer, Casey Hudson, on the Mass Effect trilogy, which began as an exclusive for the Xbox 360. That team stepped up to create memorable stories and characters like Commander Shepard, who always had a moral dilemma to overcome as he sought to save the galaxy at great personal sacrifice. The Mass Effect series was where BioWare came into its own as a company of crafters that could create blockbuster games that actually shipped. The ability to repeat the process of creating and shipping great games is what made BioWare so valuable, and it spurred Elevation Partners to buy a majority stake in BioWare and Pandemic Studios for $300 million in 2005. EA bought BioWare/Pandemic in 2007 for $860 million.

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Wonderful essay.

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