Halls of EA - Dragon Age Sword

Walking around the offices of Electronic Arts exposes you to lots of video game artifacts and memorabilia. In addition to items such as the Road Rash bike and the Sega Probe prototype, another standout relic is an honest-to-goodness broadsword. Said broadsword is a replica of the one used by the Grey Wardens (the elite order of warriors in the Dragon Age universe); it was crafted to impress fans at trade shows, and even further immerse them into Dragon Age: Origins's setting of Thedas.

The saga behind this sword goes back to the tradeshow-filled summer of 2009—before the release of Dragon Age: Origins. You’ve probably noticed that BioWare's games tend to attract cosplayers of all kinds; if you've been to any videogame-centric convention, I am certain you have come into contact with many Commander Shepards, Morrigans, and Hawkes (see below). Even the costumes that Bioware employees wear were intricately designed; for example, the Garrus costume worn by the Mass Effect marketing team required wearing boots that had them walking on their tippy toes. Garrus looked authentic, but those boots were worse and more painful than walking in high heels. Point is: BioWare games inspire great cosplay from both employees and fans.

Before Dragon Age: Origins's debut at PAX and Comic-Con, the BioWare team wanted to give fans the full cosplay experience. The developers actually went and forged a full-sized replica of the Grey Warden broadsword—which came out to approximately 30 lbs. Since they were located up in Edmonton, Canada, the next obstacle was shipping this very large weapon across the border. In comes product manager Nick Clifford, who at the time was working for BioWare at EA's Los Angeles office. He was placed on “Operation Grey Warden Sword,” and had the job of picking up the sword at Los Angeles International Airport. Clifford explained, “I tried to carry a 30 pound full-sized replica sword out of customs; customs officers don’t know about the Grey Wardens.” As he predicted, U.S. customs officers did indeed stop and profusely questioned him about the sword and his plans for using it. After seeing how explaining that the sword was a video game replica was going nowhere, Clifford then decided to call the sword's maker up in Canada, and have them explain the nature of their work. After two more hours of back-and-forth, the sword was finally released into the custody of EA.  

The sword made its rounds through the tradeshow circuit that summer as part of a very thematic experience. Each tradeshow had a Dragon Age booth where players got to check out a demo of Dragon Age: Origins. After finishing the demo, players were then thematically "inducted" into the Grey Wardens. This started by entering into "Weisshaupt Fortress," and seeing marketing manager David Silverman and creative producer Mike Laidlaw both clad in 40 pounds of chainmail. In their hands, this same 30 pound Grey Warden broadsword replica was then used to initiate the fans into the Grey Warden order. And after inducting so many Dragon Age fans, this broad sword now rests in the halls of EA.

The Halls of EA is a look at the people, places, and artifacts that define EA history