Kate’s Birthday Surprise…from Space!

My awesome step-daughter Kate turned 16 today. This being a big milestone in her life, Nicole and I wanted to ensure it was special and memorable. Nicole organized a surprise party for December 9 and spent months getting Kate geekerific gifts from all over the internet. After due consideration, I decided to contact my friends at BioWare and enlist their aid. Kate, you see, is a huge Mass Effect fan, and nearly as big of a Dragon Age fan. My publishing company, Green Ronin, is in business with BioWare, licensing Dragon Age for a pen and paper RPG.

So I e-mailed the BioWare folks and explained that Kate’s birthday was coming up. She didn’t like Twilight or boy bands, I told them, but she did like shooting aliens in the face. Mike Laidlaw, Dragon Age’s Creative Director, said, “I’m on it!” He and Chris Bain (my day to day business contact there) arranged to have three Mass Effect t-shirts and two prints sent here before the surprise party. They were a huge hit with Kate, and caused one of her Mass Effect loving friends to exclaim, “I hate you so much!” One of the t-shirts and one of the prints featured Garrus, Kate’s favorite character from the games, and this made her extra happy.

Nicole did a fantastic job with the party. Kate was truly surprised, there was a big crowd, and Kate got some killer swag. After that and a brunch at Salty’s with Bruce and Tim (who had flown up from the Bay Area for the party), I’m sure Kate thought that the birthday surprises were at an end. Mooohaaaaahaaa.

Mike Laidlaw and his BioWare cohorts went above and beyond the call, you see. Mike was able to get the voice actor who plays Garrus in the games to record a special message for Kate. I had hoped to have it for the party but the audio people needed to process it so it had the right Garrus sound. I got it on Monday, just in time for Kate’s actual birthday. I had planned to get up early the following day and play it for her then but I couldn’t wait.

A few minutes after midnight, I took my laptop downstairs and gathered Kate and Nicole. I told Kate that I had a received a message for her from space…and the future. Then I hit play. Garrus’s voice boomed out:

“Kate, we’re in this together. Odds don’t matter anymore. This fight has always been ours to finish.”

Her face lit up. She said, “That’s so awesome. Oh my god, that’s awesome. Fangirl squee!” Then a few minutes later she said, “I’m going to be smiling all the time.” I assured her that would be AOK.

I’m writing this an hour and a half later. Kate can’t sleep because she’s still too excited. I’m so pleased this made my girl happy. She deserves everything good in this world.

Huge thanks to Mike Laidlaw, Chris Bain, and all the BioWare people who made this happen. You rule from orbit.

Originally published on LiveJournal on December 13, 2011. 

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