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Sunday, May 06, 2007

CVG Feature - Valve's industrial revolution

"From their Microsoft roots, technical expertise and obvious business savvy, I'd expected a pressurised office atmosphere. But when I suggested I come in earlier than my noon appointment, Valve's PR man Doug Lombardi laughed: "No one's going to be around." They work the hours they feel like, Valve do their laundry for them, and they all go off on a company-funded holiday together when they finish a game. The third question I asked at Valve was "Can I have a job?"

There are no managers at Valve, and no one has a fixed position. Co-founder Gabe Newell describes himself as a playtester, and Old Man Murray co-founder Chet Faliszek's job title is 'Mr Awesome'. Doug tells me that everyone just works on what they want. "If, after Portal 3, Kim [Swift, project lead on Portal] comes in here and says 'I'm burned on Portal stuff, I wanna go build Day of Defeat maps,' we'd say, 'Killer... go do that.'" ('PORTAL 3 CONFIRMED', I scribble quietly in my notebook.)

So how do these hedonistic game gurus want to change the way we play games online? They want to make it more sociable. Right now most players double-click a server and play with strangers for an hour or two, then never see them again. Valve's latest big announcement, The Steam Community, will encourage you to play with friends, and make new ones."

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