Fourteen years after Half-Life 2 — a game, by the way, that will likely never see a sequel unless it can be bundled with another leverageable platform — Good Guy Valve has smiled and exploited its way to a position of astonishing power and influence.
Even on an organizational level, Good Guy Valve seemed like Dream Guy Valve, who you would kill to work for. Their famous internal handbook “leaked” in 2012, painting a beautiful picture of a free-spirited workplace where genuine creativity and absolute, unchecked innovation bubbled out like a freshwater spring in a magical forest.
Much like the ones on their famously mobile desks, the wheels on that particularly romanticized notion appear to have fallen off. Former Valve employees have come out to slam the internal culture as being a high-school like mix of cliques and backstabbing, with another engineer saying it was “the worst experience of my life” and with desk setups similar to a “panopticon prison”. Valve was even slapped with a court case after one transgender employee alleged that her supervisor constantly referred to her as “it.”
In fact, one of her key complaints in that court case is that Valve fired her after she raised concerns that the company was exploiting people who loved their products, in order to provide translation services for free. Sound familiar?