Video game industry mourns Winnipeg-born 'rock star' designer

Corey Gaspur, 33, a video game designer for Edmonton-based BioWare, died accidentally on July 28.

Corey Gaspur worked on titles such as Mass Effect 2 and 3, Anthem

Corey Gaspur, a video game designer for Edmonton-based BioWare, died accidentally on July 28 at age 33. (BioWare)

Corey Gaspur was about three years old when his parents bought him his first gaming system. That Nintendo, with Super Mario, set him down a path to working on some of the video game industry's biggest titles.

Over nearly a decade at Edmonton-based BioWare, he worked as a designer on popular and critically acclaimed titles such as Mass Effect 2 and 3, and Dragon Age: Origins.

"His passion was always video games," said David Gaspur, his father.

Most recently, he was the lead designer on the hotly anticipated Anthem, his father said.

"This would have been one of his biggest games."

Gaspur was born in Winnipeg in 1983. He died accidentally in Edmonton on July 28, his father said. He was 33.

Several video gaming magazines, as well as Rolling Stone, marked Gaspur's passing.

Gaspur showed an interest in tinkering with games at a young age, his father said.

"We kind of laugh about it. He was always taking board games that we had, like Monopoly or whatever, and he would just change them around to his own game and he would play that with the kids," his father said.

Gaspur's father introduced him, as well as his brother and sister, to movies and art at a young age. Showing an early talent for art, Gaspur went to Vancouver Film School and specialized in video game design.

His father said it was Gaspur's "tenacity" that led him to a job at BioWare.

The company announced his death in a blog post. "It is with great sadness that we announce the passing of our friend and colleague Corey Gaspur."

Corey Gaspur worked as a designer on the game Mass Effect 3.

Gaspur and his team often travelled to video game conventions.

"They're like rock stars there," his father said. "You've gotta realize that they have these huge open forums that fans can come in of different games and ask them questions about games. It's unbelievable the status that they carry."

Despite the acclaim, Gaspur's father said his son remained grounded.

"His team. He never says him, he always said his team. He was always very humble."

​Apart from gaming, Gaspur's father said he was "devoted" to his his wife, Laura, and son, Cain.

Cain, who turns four this month, has already shown an interest in video games.

"He was getting groomed to be a video genius as well. It's unbelievable what that kid can play on his DS and stuff like that."

Gaspur also leaves behind his mother, Kelly.

"He was just an all around really gifted individual. I couldn't imagine what he would have done in 30 years from now. It's such a short life, right?" his father said.

A celebration of his life will be held Saturday at 11 a.m. at Our Lady of Perpetual Help on Roblin Boulevard.