Greg Zeschuk Official

Some Background on DoktorZee

On Political Donations

It was reported last week that I made a significant donation to Mike Nickel’s mayoral campaign; this is indeed true. Early this year, Mike Nickel approached me to donate to his upcoming mayoral campaign. He was the city councillor presiding over the ward where my business is located and I went to him multiple times for help while building the Ritchie Market (the home of Biera and Blind Enthusiasm). Every time I asked for help he came through and helped to fix the issues I was having with the city. As he had helped me in the past I agreed to help him and made the donation before the election campaign really started. I made my donation to his campaign in April 2021.

As someone that doesn’t follow local politics I didn’t understand the implications of this. I should have done my research and made a more informed decision. As I’ve seen the campaigns unfold this past year, I noted that his campaign was inconsistent with my personal values and realized that my support would be perceived as inconsistent with who you believe me to be. This was a mistake I had a chance to fix, but did not. (I saw behaviour I didn’t agree with and didn’t call it out.) I can’t change either of those mistakes but I can provide a more complete picture of who I am as that seems to have been called into question in recent social media posts. 

I strive to be open, welcoming, kind, approachable, fair, humble and to treat everyone equally. I also believe in helping others when I’m in a position to do so. I’m not politically aligned with any party and have only ever made a small number of political donations in my life (more on those below). In this civic election cycle, in addition to Mike Nickel, I’ve made substantial donations to the campaigns to elect: 

Rhiannon Hoyle (ward ipiihkoohkaniplaohtsi), Kirsten Goa (ward papastew), Keren Tang (ward karhiio) and James Cameron (ward papastew) 

In the past I’ve supported the campaign to elect Don Iveson. During the prior Ward 11 election I also donated to campaigns to elect Mike Nickel and his competitor, Keren Tang.  

In the recent federal election I made a substantial donation to the campaign to elect Blake Desjarlais. I’m extremely happy he was elected and I am very proud to have him representing Edmonton as an MP. 

The only other political donations I have made are to campaigns to elect Rachael Notley. 

For me, these are private actions. I make choices to support people on a variety of criteria and don’t really promote what I do. This current situation has forced me to publicly open up a little bit, which is against my nature. When I stepped away from BioWare almost a decade ago part of my motivation was to get off the social media treadmill. Life is short; I’d prefer not to spend it Tweeting.

One of the things that’s been drilled into me from this current situation is that actions speak louder than words. People have made assumptions about who I am, my affiliations, and what I’m like based on one data point. I’d like to provide additional data points to consider. 

I’ve made the personal (and relatively private) choice to donate a very significant amount of money on a yearly basis. I’m in the position to help our local community, so I choose to do so. One thing to remember is I’m the sole owner of Biera and Blind Enthusiasm and when those organizations are making donations I’m basically the one doing it. And, before you suggest all I’m doing is offsetting our massive profits ask someone in hospitality about the tight/non-existent margins in the space. There are no profits to be offset, especially during Covid. 

In the last 12 months we’ve made donations to: Native Counselling Services of Alberta, Jerry Forbes Center, Edmonton Epilepsy, Humane Animal Rescue Team, Basically Babies, Camp fYrefly, Varscona Theater, Harcourt House, Leftovers, Make a Wish, Sexual Assault Center of Edmonton, Shakespeare in the Park, Elantis (for Colon Cancer Research), Change for Children, The Today Center, Big Brothers & Big Sisters, Companion Animal Welfare Society, WINhouse, Africa Center, Center for Autism Services of Alberta, Operation Friendship Seniors Society, Rainbow Society, Zoe’s Animal Rescue, Kids Kottage, CASA, Mealshare, Edmonton Food Bank, Mental Health Foundation, Lead with Seeds, and Youth Empowerment and Support Services. 

I also have a substantial, multi-year personal endowment at the Edmonton Public Library. 

These actions reflect who I am. It you want to judge me, I think it would be fair to judge the entire picture.

The other thing I learned is that I can’t passively participate (e.g. in a political donation) and then not take action when my values are no longer in synch with the person or thing I’m supporting. I let that happen and didn’t take action. I have no excuse for this. In the future I’ll do better research, follow things more closely, be “all-in” on whatever I’m supporting, and act when I see bad behaviour. I know I’ve let many of you down and apologize for that. I’ll strive to do better in the future.


On Leaving BioWare:

Writing a note like this is something one imagines doing once in a lifetime, if at all. The experience of following a dream, achieving it and along the way working with the most talented, passionate and engaging people imaginable isn’t something I’m likely going to repeat again. Building BioWare over the years with Ray and the many other people involved was a once in a lifetime opportunity, and I’ll cherish it always.

After nearly twenty years working at BioWare I’ve decided it’s time to move on and pursue something new. This decision isn’t without significant pain and regret, but it’s also something I know I need to do, for myself and my family. I’ve reached an unexpected point in my life where I no longer have the passion that I once did for the company, for the games, and for the challenge of creation. For the people I have had the privilege of working with, however, my passion burns as brightly as it did the day we started. The people I work with now, and that I have worked with in the past, have inspired me and really made all of the challenges we’ve collectively faced over the years worthwhile. We have been blessed with tremendous success over the years at BioWare, and the reason is simply down to a large number of great people doing great work. Successful people or companies have to admit luck also plays a part in their success, and it certainly did for us; a few times over the years we made the right game at the right time and success flowed as a result. When we got it right, it was like a hole in one or a home run; it was a magical feeling and incomparable in positive impact for everyone involved.

At BioWare we’ve always valued the effort of the team, as well as the herculean efforts of passionate individuals. I’ve had the privilege of working with some of the best people in the games business; some of them are well known, and some are not. What every single one of them does is commit himself or herself fully to the act of doing great work, whatever it is, and then stubbornly pursues the goal until it is achieved. The amazing thing about working at BioWare is that everyone does this; it is part of the culture we helped foster and grow. BioWare’s foundation in its Core Values, passion and professionalism remains in the very fiber of the company. One thing I’m confident of is that we’ve built a great team that will continue to succeed long after I’m gone. The thing I’m most proud of is the success of people that we’ve help grow over the years; I hope all of them exceed anything I’ve ever done and eclipse our achievements. I have full confidence in the current leadership team guiding BioWare to continued future success.

I also want to specially call out Ray and thank him for his amazing passion, focus and leadership in building BioWare over the years. I certainly could never have done it alone, and he was the most amazing business partner I could ever ask for; he did more than most people will ever know to drive BioWare’s success over the years. It was a great ride, and having the opportunity to share it with him was incredible.

I’d also like to thank the fans that have supported us across so many games over the decades we’ve been plying our craft. One of my favorite experiences is hearing from people about how much they’ve enjoyed a recent release or BioWare classic; it seems to happen all the time so clearly we’ve had an impact. Sure we’ve had our disagreements with the fans (and them with us), but frankly I understand how that’s driven by passion and love of the games. It’s exhilarating to consider how many lives we’ve touched with the entertainment we’ve created over the last 20 years.

I’d also like to thank EA for the amazing support we’ve received in recent years. Working with John Riccitiello, Frank Gibeau, Peter Moore and the rest of the EA team was a great experience and their support was essential in us being able to achieve our creative goals with Dragon Age, Mass Effect and Star Wars: The Old Republic. Thanks to the team at Electronic Arts we had an amazing run. I’ve had the great fortune of making a number of lifelong friends within EA that I’ll always cherish; happily I leave this experience with great people to remember it by.

Over the years we’ve also had the opportunity to work with other great companies on some amazing properties. When we started BioWare if we were told we were destined to work on Star Wars with Lucas Arts, Dungeons and Dragons with Interplay/TSR/Wizards of the Coast/Black Isle/Atari and Hasbro, Sonic with SEGA, and Warhammer with Games Workshop we never would have believed it. We also made some of our own properties with partners like Microsoft. As serious gamers and RPG fans our entire career has been a dream come true.

Some of you will be curious what I’ll be doing next, and I can state that I’m not going to be working in games for a while, and there’s a strong possibility that I won’t be back. After my departure I’m going to be spending significant time with family and friends, as well as pursuing some personal passion-driven projects related to craft beer. The main project I will be working on is a web-based interview show called The Beer Diaries where I interview notable brewers and showcase their beers. If things go well, I’ll work on other beer-related shows, apps and projects. If not, I’ll have drunk a lot of tasty beers and may be back in games or even something else completely different. Ultimately time will tell.

And… that’s it. Normally at this point, if I was still working on Star Wars: The Old Republic, I’d finish with something pithy like: “May the Force be With You,” but that doesn’t really apply any more. All I can think of is to say thanks… for everything.