Into the Blue



I just spent the last hour raging over EA and how much I hate their bullshit.

Can we just take a moment and appreciate the beauty that is Valve Software?

We can poke fun at how slow they are, at Gabe’s weight, at the hats, but you know what? They are the best thing out there. They are by far the most innovative developer. They take fucking risks. They don’t repeat the same shit over and over again. And they know when what they make is crap, and they START OVER to make it the absolute best it can be. Did you know the original Half-Life was almost ready for launch when they decided it was shit so they practically scrapped the whole fucking thing to start over? WHO THE FUCK DOES THAT?

Also they saved PC Gaming.
Do you bitches remember the early ’00s? PC Gaming was dying fast. Then lol here comes Valve with fucking Steam and the fucking Orange Box and single-handedly kicked PC Gaming back into the spotlight with an amazing new idea to combat piracy that didn’t piss the fuck out everyone using it. Not only that, it made getting games easier and for less money with access to a store that quickly became massive. Back in my day, if you couldn’t find it on the shelf at Fry’s you were out of fucking luck. Or Game Stop. This was still when Game Stop had PC Games. ALSO Look at all those indie games over there on Steam. Loooook at them. Steam provided an amazing platform for independent developers to get their product out there and immediately available to millions of people.

And they listen to the community and stuff.

I really, really love Valve. A lot.

Here’s my tl;dr about how glorious Valve is.

I was in Seattle last summer and, on a long shot, I sent an e-mail to Valve asking if my boyfriend and I could pop in, check things out, and then get out of their hair. You know what I got back? A personal email from Gabe Newell inviting us in for a tour.

If that’s not amazing enough, while we were waiting in the lobby (which is beautiful), a full grown man rides by, back and forth for about ten minutes, on a fucking Razr Scooter. Like it ain’t no thing for a thirty year old man to ride through the hallways of his workplace on a children’s toy. Alison, the amazingly kind receptionist who acted as our tour guide also gave us the grand tour of Gabe’s office (although he wasn’t there), including his huge fuck off knife collection. That’s right, Gabe Newell has well over a hundred sharp ass fucking knives in his office, I guess in case some crazy fan comes in or some shit like that.

The most amazing thing about Valve, though, isn’t the atmosphere that its employees work in or the games themselves. It’s the fact that Valve is built on a flat business model. Alison explained this to us when I asked about creative meetings, and I about shit my pants. For those of you who don’t know, that’s how small businesses are usually oriented and it means that employees are very nearly completely autonomous. There are no bosses, no managers, no one at Valve is any better than anyone else in terms of their contributions. No one is breathing down an employee’s back to get something done the way they want it - employees don’t have to “answer” to anyone. Instead, Valve asks its employees to contribute what they think would work best, and each game is a culmination of these ideas rather than a conglomerate of “what will sell” from a boardroom perspective. I don’t know if you guys know how creative businesses usually work, but they are more or less a clusterfuck of managers fighting for power and underlings fighting for creative control. Somehow, someway, by some miracle of nature, Valve isn’t like that. Everyone gets a say. Everyone has a voice. Every employee and their family is required to play test, for christ’s sake. In the business world, this is un-fucking heard of. Valve operates as though they are a small creative firm - they have about 200 employees who all know each other by name, they all work together, they don’t export their work overseas (except for physical disc production). They are a small business at heart, forever and always, that somehow managed to be a multi-billion dollar international business, a well respected company, and an incredibly sought after employer.

There are more Valve cosplayers in the world than there are Valve employees.

Just think about that.

So after our tour was over and we were about to leave, Alison pulls us aside and asks us what our favorite Valve games are. “Portal,” I say. “TF2,” my boyfriend says. “Wait here,” she tells us, leaving us alone in the lobby. We take photos, we joke around, and then she comes back with two neat little bags, filled to the brim with well over $100 worth of Steam store merchandise. I was about to cry. All I asked for was the opportunity to come in and see where the magic happens, and instead I got hospitality. I got a full tour, I got the opportunity to talk one on one with the employees who created some of my favorite games, I got a bag full of swag. Valve is an amazing place. It’s a company of real people making games for nerds just like themselves. So next time you want to complain about how a game is taking too long or how buggy something is, hold your fucking tongue. Because they are sure as fucking shit working on it, and it will be better than you ever expected.

I couldn’t have said this more perfectly. Valve fucking rocks, to those who say otherwise, well…go suck a combustible lemon.

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    I heard they also made 3-4 versions of Team Fortress because they couldn’t decide what will the final product look like...
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