Michael Abrash was ABD (All But Dissertation) in the PhD program in Energy Management and Policy at the University of Pennsylvania in 1980 when he got his first microcomputer – a Vector Graphics VIP CP/M machine with 56K and 160x72 graphics – and he’s still ABD. (His mother stopped giving him a hard time about not getting his PhD sometime in the mid-1990’s, right around his first meeting with Bill Gates.) He did some of the earliest arcade-style games for the IBM PC (Space Strike, Cosmic Crusader, and Big Top, if you’re a trivia buff – and yes, they were sold in plastic baggies). After he discovered the hard way that the PC didn’t actually have a game market yet, he worked at a series of hardware and software graphics companies, writing several books (including Zen of Assembly Language) and magazine columns (remember them?) on performance and graphics (most notably for Dr. Dobb’s Journal) along the way. In 1992 he somehow ended up as the graphics lead for the first two versions of Windows NT, then in 1995 he went to Id and worked alongside John Carmack to write Quake. After that he worked on both versions of Xbox, cowrote a software renderer, and worked on Intel’s Larrabee project before coming to Valve.
Check out Michael's blog Ramblings in Valve Time
Mike has a B.A. in Computer Science and Psychology from Yale and a PhD in Psychology from the University of Illinois. His job
description is vague, but he thinks it probably has something to do with applying both psychological knowledge and methodologies to game design. Essentially this means he gets to play with data, perform
research, and act as an in-house consultant of sorts. He is really happy that you took the time to read his paragraph.
Matthew loved to play video games as a child. His parents warned him that playing games wasn't going to get him a job in the future. After graduating from the University of Washington in 2010, he proved them wrong by landing a job at Valve. As part of Valve’s Steam Support Team, Matthew helps support our Korean community and localizing efforts, making thousands of Korean Steam users believe we actually have offices in Korea. Matthew also uses his Photoshop skills to help make sure advertisements for sales and promotions get properly translated and presented to Steam users in Chinese, Japanese, Russian, Spanish, French, and German - just to name a few. In his spare time he enjoys playing soccer and any first-person shooter game he can get his hands on.
Prior to joining Valve in the summer of 1996, Ted studied
painting at the University of Washington. During his time here, Ted has been designing and building many of the people, places, and things that inhabit Black Mesa, City 17, and the
outlying environments. A Seattle native, Ted finds drizzle comforting and insists that Payne's grey is his favorite color.
Jeff's projects include Half-Life 2, Lost-Coast, Day of Defeat. Team Fortress 2, Left 4 Dead 2, and DotA 2. He is responsible for concepts, world textures, prototyping levels, architectural studies, and model making. In addition to working on world environments you can find him sketching, modeling, and learning new art techniques.
Before joining Valve in 2010 as a Level Designer and Artist, Ken Banks previously worked on titles including Doom 3, Quake 4, and Borderlands. His career was inspired by his first real gaming experience on the PC, Valve’s Half-Life, in 1998. He became established in Half-Life’s flourishing mod community as a contributor to the successful Natural-Selection, which helped launch his career into game development at the age of 18.
Aaron got his first taste of 3D environments when he was studying engineering at UCLA. He was building VRML websites for the university, and also designing levels for Quake and Duke Nukem 3D with several Internet mod groups. His level design skills landed him a job at Xatrix Entertainment where he worked on Redneck Rampage, Quake 2, and Kingpin. After Kingpin, he took a senior design position at Electronic Arts where he worked on James Bond before coming to Valve. Outside the world of game and level design, Aaron likes playing music around Seattle. www.nineteen5.com.
Jeep quit his janitorial job at Fred Meyer to turn his programming hobby into a career. Jeep's love of video games (and fear of returning to a
life of toilet scrubbing) drove him to earn a B.S. Degree from the DigiPen Institute of Technology in Redmond, WA. His senior game project, Narbacular Drop, morphed into Portal after Valve hired Jeep and his DigiPen teammates.
Playing with G.I. Joes and video games as a kid really paid off for Mike. First, he made a career in stop motion, animating Gumby and the Pillsbury Doughboy, and the films Nightmare Before Christmas and James and the Giant Peach. Then, in 1993, he was introduced to CGI at Pixar – and he really LIKED IT. For the next 12 years, Mike worked at the Walt Disney Animation Studios on such projects as Dinosaur, Kangaroo Jack, Meet the Robinsons, and Bolt. Now he's at Valve making games. When he's not playing with pixels, Mike’s spending time with his wife and kids.
Before joining Valve, Jeremy worked at Weta in New Zealand. He was the Visual Effects Art Director on The Lord of the Rings trilogy and the Conceptual Designer on King Kong. In 2003, Jeremy won the Visual Effects Society’s Best Art Direction in a Motion Picture award for his work on The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers. Since joining Valve in 2006 he has worked on Half Life: Episode 2, Left 4 Dead and Left 4 Dead 2, Portal 2, and several upcoming titles. When he's not at work Jeremy can be found surfing the many breaks off the Olympic Peninsula, or building Lego space ships with his two boys.
Prior to Valve, Dan shipped a bunch of products, provided consumer services, and managed development teams. None of that was nearly as cool as what he's doing now. Despite his complete lack of game-industry qualifications - unless 20-odd years of pen-and-paper role-playing count - he nailed his Valve interview and got invited to join the party. Dan now works on Steam, happy to be back in a role where he's only responsible for his own mistakes.
Yahn was an Atlanta patent lawyer with a degree in chemistry from Harvard. So obviously he ended up in Seattle developing computer games. He taught himself to program at the age of 12 and has worked on the systems code and tools for most of Valve's titles. Yahn's proudest moment was when he was able to edit the text of this paragraph, after leaving it unchanged for more than a decade.
Ken interrupted his fine art studies to join Gabe at Valve as one of their first employees. With a background mostly in simulation and medical
software, Ken's primary focus at Valve has been animation software. He's also responsible for most of the acting systems that underlie the characters in Half-Life 2. Ken is the only Valve employee to
actually grow up here in Bellevue, and spends countless hours regaling his officemates with tales of what the town was like "when I was a boy".
Jason worked on British comics 2000ad and Judge Dredd Megazine as well as concept art for many games. His free time was spent mostly “enhancing” (other people’s) property with spray paint. Jason eventually skipped town and now resides near Seattle where he does all manner of arting at Valve and no longer pursues his extra-curricular activities in any way shape or form. Honest.
Another Fort Walton Beach, Florida native, Charlie graduated from the University of Florida in the summer of 1994 and headed for California and 3Dfx Interactive. His responsibilities there included developer support, porting products to hardware, sample code, simple demos, and ultimately working with the 3Dfx developer relations team to manage the engineering game porting effort. Charlie left 3Dfx after two years and, with his college friend Gary McTaggart, created the Uber(tm) Engine at Ritual Entertainment in Dallas, Texas. Not long after joining Ritual, Charlie and Gary left to start their own company. Not long after that, Valve made Charlie (and Gary) an offer "they couldn't refuse."
Tom graduated from the University of California-Berkeley with a Bachelor's degree in Computer Science. Like most software engineers at the time, he decided to join an Internet startup and become a millionaire before turning 30. When that didn’t happen, and after the Internet bubble burst, he decided to forget all that web-based, e-commerce stuff and pursue his real dream: making video games. He joined Midway Games West (formerly, the original Atari). That studio shut down a few months later, so Tom moved on to Maxis where he worked on titles such as Darkspore, Spore, and The Sims 2 (and many of its expansion packs). Since joining Valve in 2010, Tom has worked on Team Fortress 2, Portal 2, and small parts of Steam.
As a music major, Tobin fully expected to have a career in food service. Instead, he spent most of his twenties touring and recording with Robert Fripp and The League of Crafty Guitarists, which led, somehow, to Microsoft in 1996, where he worked on Interactive Music Architecture (DirectMusic) and then as an Audio Director at Microsoft Game Studios, primarily with FASA. Tobin joined Valve in 2008 and is blown away every day that, in addition to doing audio production on some of the coolest projects in the whole wide world, he’s allowed to tinker with the audio calls in the game code, and encouraged to learn more about that side of the process every day.
Chris spent his college years working on Quest, a Quake level editor. His first real job was at the Massachusetts-based Looking Glass Studios where he worked on sound and physics for Thief. (His Thief handiwork included the revolutionary and tragically forgotten "sphere hat" primitive.) After a few sweaty years in Texas working on the Deus Ex sequel for Ion Storm Austin, Chris joined Valve. He still enjoys being able to step out of doors without bursting into flame.
Dario started designing levels for Doom while he was studying economics at the University of Oxford in England. After building "Final Doom: The Plutonia Experiment" with his brother, he was invited to Valve where he discovered that it was actually possible to have a career in games. Upon graduating from Oxford in 1996, he decided that the finance world would just have to wait. After all these years in the U.S., Dario still stubbornly refuses to give up his accent, and happily endures being the subject of British jokes on a daily basis.
Matt grew up in Nottingham in the UK. He broke into videogames 14 years ago when he started working at a British shop called Core Design on a new game called Tomb Raider. Remember that one? Many sequels later he moved to Canada where he worked at Bioware (on Mass Effect) and then at Blizzard/Activision in Vancouver. When Matt joined Valve in 2008 he got straight to work crafting characters for Left 4 Dead 2. By adding a simple lacey undergarment, he managed to help make the Spitter even grosser than was previously thought possible. If he ever offers to show you his reference images, just walk away.
While attending Virginia Tech, Jess co-created the original Counter-Strike. You may have heard his voice yell, “Counter-Terrorists Win!” once or twice. Ask him to say it; he loves that. These days, Jess can be found working on Left 4 Dead 2 and attempting to toilet train his cat Gonk. He’s this close.
Phil Co graduated from the University of Virginia School of Architecture in 1994 and moved to the San Francisco Bay Area hoping to be a rock star. When the rock star thing didn't work out, Phil turned to his second choice: level design. He started at Cyclone Studios, working on Requiem: Avenging Angel. He went on to design levels at Infinite Machine, Knowwonder, and Blizzard North before coming to Valve in 2005. He is also the author of the book Level Design for Games.
Formerly of Team Fortress software, John manages online platform development for Team Fortress 2 and other projects. Before coming to Valve, John studied computer science at RMIT University in Australia. He still suffers from jetlag after his move to Seattle; he can’t seem to make it in to work until past noon.
Prior to joining Valve, Greg helped Microsoft design various software products. Before that, he worked with Nintendo, started and ran a user interface design company, and spent several years as a freelance product designer. After helping to come up with the company name, Greg went on to lead the first game project that Valve ever cancelled.
Greg's secret dream is to create a game called Akzidenz-Grotesk. You know, for kids.
Christen joined Valve after serving ten years at Microsoft, where she designed a variety of consumer products and platforms. Since they let her go on good behavior, she’s joined the Steam team, where she designs, produces, tests, ships, and markets new features with the team of Steam engineers. And her brother.
Have feedback or suggestions about Steam?
Send 'em her way!
Scott began playing and designing games at an early age on an Atari 800 and never looked back. He came to Valve after creating games at Legend Entertainment for many years. Aside from level design and game mechanics, he delights in creating particle effects and programming the system that drives them. When not making worlds come to life, he's usually making them explode, bleed, and burn.
Bruce joined Valve after alternating between gaming and non-gaming careers. This was part of a careful study to determine which is more enjoyable. Spoiler alert: working on games is wicked fun. Bruce's previous game jobs include work at Distinctive Software, Cavedog Entertainment, Humongous Entertainment, and with Microsoft’s Xbox 360 group. His previous non-game jobs are too boring to list. Bruce enjoys making games faster and less crashy, and blogs
about these attempts. True fact: Bruce tried to parlay his juggling and unicycling skills into a career, and only failed because he had no money for circus school.
Dean started playing computer games on mainframe computers in the mid ‘70’s at The Evergreen State College while in Jr. High and has never stopped. After getting a pair of degrees in optics from the University of Rochester, he dove into work at Boeing on the expansion pack to the most expensive game ever developed. The game was “Global Thermonuclear War” AKA “The Cold War” and the expansion pack was “Strategic Defense Initiative” colloquially known as Ronald Reagan’s “Star Wars.” Over time Dean slid over to work on developing techniques for optically measuring jet engines exhaust, shockwaves, vibration, liquid flow, supercool water sprays, unexploded munitions, and even crops. He then opted to switch gears to work on a far more important project – he became a stay-at-home dad. After a more than a few years of raising his three daughters, Dean’s wife decided it was her turn to experience the thrills and spills of being a stay-at-home parent. Dean leaped into a position of designing and building see-through, head mounted displays using scanned laser beams for a half-dozen years. When Valve invited him to join the team here, Dean jumped in without hesitation and began his never ending quest to reward the community of Valve customers with awesome experiences.
Originally from San Juan, Puerto Rico, Ariel came to Valve after finishing his studies at the Savannah College of Art and Design. As part of Valve’s character design team, he is responsible for creating character models, facial expressions, and skeleton deformations. Outside Valve, he pursues traditional art skills such as drawing, painting, and sculpting.
"Q!" brings over 10 years of multi-disciplinary graphic design experience
to Valve. He has had a creative role in launching print, online, and new media endeavors as a senior art director for Incite PC Gaming magazine, art director for PC Accelerator, and associate art
director for PC Gamer. At Valve, you can find Q!'s schedule filled with marketing, packaging, web design, game trailers, .dem file creation, and other visual communications tasks. In his spare time, Q!
likes to reminisce about how he was training to be a competitive bodybuilder 14 years ago. Get over it, already!
Mike joined Valve in 2000 after spending 10 years in senior marketing and business development positions in the semiconductor test and embedded software markets. At Valve, Mike is responsible for general business development, including Source Engine licensing, Steam content distribution, Asian distribution, and tournament licensing. During his spare time, he enjoys coaching high school and premier club soccer teams. Mike's ideal Sunday afternoon is spending time at a soccer game with his wife and son.
Dhabih, who's been playing games since he was six years old, has a degree in Interdisciplinary Art from the University of Washington. He started making a name for himself by doing freelance design work for gaming magazines (Electronic Gaming Monthly
, Official Playstation Magazine
, PC Gaming World
) while still in school. Dhabih has also done web design and worked on the Quake2
TC pack Zaero from Team Evolve. He started at Valve by doing freelance work in mid-1998, and signed on full-time in early February of 1999. Dhabih is truly a world citizen, having grown up in six different countries (Australia, Macau, Canada, China, Taiwan, and the USA). You can find out more about Dhabih and check out some of his work by visiting his website
Miles began his career at Foundation Imaging in Southern California as a character animator on the Starship Troopers TV series. Shortly thereafter, he got his start in games - lead animator for Interplay's PS2 game Run Like Hell. Upon joining Valve in 2001, Miles was inhumanely forced to participate in company playtests. As a result, he developed an addiction to Counter-Strike, despite the fact that he was really bad at it. He has since overcome his addiction and contributes character modeling and/or animation to a lot of Valve games. His hobbies include lamenting over the fact that he's not drawing enough.
We are all still trying to figure out exactly what it is that Chet does at Valve, but at the very least he occupies office space on the 11th floor as
self-proclaimed Mr. Awesome.
After a couple of years spending too much time in meetings at Amazon.com, Al made the trip across Lake Washington to join Valve as a web developer on the Steam team. When he's not playtesting Team Fortress 2, Al works on the Steam store and other Valve websites.
Dave came to Valve in July of 2009 after five years at Electronic Art's Redwood Shores studio where he worked on Dead Space and The Godfather series. When he’s not rattling the walls at Valve with dangerously loud sound effects, Dave enjoys playing music, fly fishing, cooking, and Polaroid photography. A Seattle native, Dave is a graduate of California’s Ex'pression College.
Adrian landed in Venezuela from the planet Krypton, and began programming at an early age. Before Valve, Adrian contributed to several popular Half-Life mods and was also a founding member of the Front Line Force team. After years spent fighting Lex Luthor, Adrian went in search of the perfect donut. He finally found "Donut Nirvana," and now has the physique of a veteran games programmer.
Vitaliy A. Genkin
Vitaliy grew up in the Soviet Union. He earned two Master's degrees (with honors) and a lieutenant rank. He solved thousands of differential equations systems, then architected and implemented software that has probably processed petabytes of binary data by now. And then, he moved to Santa Monica to help Sony lay the foundation for PlayStation-3. Vitaliy joined Valve in 2006 and helped us ship The Orange Box, our first Xbox 360 game. He went on to establish our matchmaking system, implement the PlayStation-3 version of our engine, and design and improve our numerous back-end systems.
For 10 years he played Counter-Strike and haunted game tournaments, such as the Cyberathlete Professional League Winter Championships. Now, he’s here at Valve. Derrick has been with the company for almost four years, assisting customers as part of our Steam Support team. His hobbies include animation, playing video games, running half-marathons for fun (Yes, he’s nuts!), and being a DJ.
Prior to joining Valve, Chris Green worked on such projects as the Amiga Flight Simulator II, Ultima Underworld, the Amiga OS, and Magic:The
Gathering Online. He ran his own development studio, Leaping Lizard Software, for nine years. These days, he's working on various pieces of graphics and game technology for Valve.
At age 17, Bronwen took a break from high school to attend a post-graduate course in 3D animation. (Well, why not?) At the end of the program, she was both disappointed and delighted when a visiting industry professional told her she'd never make it as a character animator, and ought to think about becoming a technical director instead. Stunned to learn that there was a profession where you could create artwork and code, she embraced a career in technical art. Three years later, she'd collected enough credits in both disciplines from various institutions to graduate from Seneca College in Toronto, Canada, with a degree in Digital Media Arts. She promptly landed a job at Toronto's Pseudo Interactive and never looked back. Now at Valve, Bronwen gets to do a little bit of everything, just like she always wanted -- well, except for the animation. Which is probably for the best.
Along with his buddy Steve Bond, John started Quake Command, the influential and popular Internet gaming site. John was also the co-creator of “Quake Airplane” and “Quake Kart,” and has constructed many of the chambers and corridors in Half-Life’s Black Mesa Research Center. Since joining Valve in 1997, John has designed levels for Half-Life, Half-Life 2, Team Fortress, Portal: Still Alive, and Portal 2.
Joel came to Valve in May 2011 to assist with front office and administrative responsibilities. Having a real estate background, he quickly investigated different organizational methods and operations to streamline all types of housekeeping chores to make sure the people behind the great games and services here at Valve are able to focus on what they do best.
While studying computer science at Cornell University’s College of Engineering, Don would disappear for months at a time - into his dorm room or “The SUG” (Cornell alums UNITE!). He was busy making computer games and graphics demos. His obsession helped him land a couple of summer gigs at Valve, where he worked, under the tutelage of Ken Birdwell and Chris Green, on making vrad.exe faster. After getting his Master’s degree, Don joined Valve full-time. He’s still working on graphics stuff.
Before joining Valve, Eric worked as a designer for Apple – working on products like Apple's iPod Classic, iPod Nano, Developer Forums, and WWDC iPhone app. These days, when he isn't designing at Valve, he can be found, sandpaper in hand, feverishly rounding the sharp corners off of anything within reach. If you happen to drop by one day and catch him doing so, perhaps in the wee hours of the morning, he will guiltily offer you a tract detailing the life and work of Dieter Rams.
While growing up in the mountains of North Carolina, Brandon often retreated to the family basement to play video games or guitar - and daydream about getting paid to do either. He wound up earning a degree in computer animation, and using his considerable animation skills to help establish the visual style for many games, including Final Fantasy IX, Warcraft III, and World of Warcraft. Brandon now spends his time at Valve creating backgrounds, pointing spotlights at extreme angles, and being slightly irresponsible with color. He still plays guitar.
As a child, Brian learned how to program by cracking all the computer games he couldn't afford to buy. As an adult, he decided to join the games industry as a way to make up for his reprehensible childhood. At LookingGlass, he worked on Flight Unlimited. He went on to co-found GameFX, and was a Lead Engineer on Sinistar Unleashed. He joined Valve in 2000 and has contributed to just about everything the company has shipped since then. Brian focuses mostly on engine and graphics technology, with the occasional foray into game design.
A Texas-born, Justin Bieber look-alike, Burton jumped into gaming at an early age. Building computers, hoarding consoles, and moderating Steam forums made him quite the teen heartthrob. When his facial hair became too prominent to disguise, he jumped into a Geek Squad uniform and enrolled as a Computer Science major at Southern Methodist University. In 2007, Burton joined Valve as a Community Developer. He came with a signature giggle, an addiction to Snickers, and the rare ability to find a relevant song for any occasion. Now, Burton can also claim expertise in web development, anti-cheat development, and community management.
Erik began his career as a shoe salesman and moved up to selling used cars. When he decided that the car business wasn't for him either, he took a job in Sierra Online’s QA department. As one of Sierra's Half-Life testers, Erik spent a lot of time at Valve and we eventually offered him a job as shipping manager. Erik is now one of Valve’s business development authorities.
Kris seems to collect careers like some people collect Pokémon. Before joining Valve - and the games industry - in 2008, he worked as a theatrical lighting and sound designer, radio producer and station automation programmer, farm news reporter, professional film critic, and TV editor. At Valve, he started out in Steam support, using his eyes (and ears) to help find and fix bugs across several Valve titles. Lately, he's been doing level and puzzle design for ongoing Portal 2 development. On the side, Kris enjoys hiking, and volunteering with the Seattle Humane Society.
Emily ended up at Valve after a design recruiter said “it’s really too bad you weren’t interested in Valve.” What?! Fast forward two years and she’s currently working on making it easier for gamers to share the best parts of their favorite games on the Steam Community. Prior to Valve, Emily worked at Xbox, at a mobile, local, social networking start up (try saying that in an interview!), and at Pioneer Studios.
Having escaped (or been let loose?) from a secret bio-research lab in Siberia, Iikka started to design and program games at an early age. However, it wasn't until he began to create levels and mods for Doom and Quake that he became known to the world. In 1988, he left the pack of wolves that raised him for a job at ION Storm in Dallas, Texas. A few years and adventures later, he found himself at Valve. That was 2001. He hasn't had the urge to bite anybody since.
Dave joined Valve in 2005, fresh from the DigiPen Institute of Technology, where he helped create the mind-bending student project (and Portal precursor) Narbacular Drop. His primary contributions to Portal and Portal 2 involved developing the graphics and physics systems that make the games’ unique discontinuous spaces work seamlessly in a 3D environment. With the addition of multiplayer in Portal 2, Dave then made those spatial discontinuities work with nonlinear prediction. Dave has also contributed to Left 4 Dead games and Xbox360 support for the Source engine. He is known within the company for his ability to quickly find new exploits in game mechanics.
Eric has been an artist with Valve since 2002. In that time, he has helped with the visual design of Half-Life 2, Team Fortress 2, Left 4 Dead 2, and other Valve titles. Originally from Southern California, Eric now calls the Pacific Northwest home.
Ted was 12 when he set out to write for a living. This mostly involved a lot of rejection letters, an unfinished biology degree, and eventually a job as a steel worker like his father and grandfather. After the steel mill went bankrupt Ted took various lab jobs where friendships were formed and fire departments called. Eventually, he finished a degree and worked in a research lab with electron microscopes, writing on the side. Then came the obvious next step: ditching it all to write video games. Since joining Valve in 2010, Ted’s worked on various projects, including the Lab Rat comic and DotA 2. His fiction has been widely reprinted and nominated for both the Nebula and Theodore Sturgeon awards.
Alden has a habit of ending up in the middle of everything. If he isn't getting in the way of Steam game releases, he’s probably working on UI design for Valve games or the Steam store. Alden came to Valve after working on design and production for the Xbox 360 Dashboard. Before that, he studied design at the University of Washington and worked on various freelance design projects. When he’s not working, Alden can be found chasing his competitive ambitions in cycling and swimming. He commutes to work by swimming back and forth across Lake Washington every day. Most weekends, he relaxes by riding his bike to Portland. Twice.
Marc Laidlaw joined Valve in 1997, bringing his experience as an author of weird fiction to bear on creating the Half-Life
storyline. He was sole writer on Half-Life
and Half-Life 2
, and lead writer for the Half-Life
episodes. Even as Valve’s writing team expanded, with the arrival of Erik Wolpaw, Chet Faliszek, Jay Pinkerton, and Ted Kosmatka, Marc remains the lead writer of emails. His novels include Dad's Nuke
, Neon Lotus
, The Orchid Eater
, and the award-winning The 37th Mandala
. Visit Mark's web site
The excitement of soldering his very own Sinclair ZX 81 in 1981 was the kickoff to Stefan's life-long love for computers. At that point he also got two fundamental insights: software is more forgiving than hardware and that one end of the soldering iron can get really hot... After joining Valve in 2008, Stefan helped release Source Filmmaker. These days he is back in the field of tools creation and user interfaces. Also he might be the only programmer you know who actually implemented a file selector dialog for three different proprietary windowing systems. He still hopes he will get it right at some point in the future.
Jeff began his career as a graphic designer in the print industry. Over the course of 12 years, he moved into graphics for video projects, then graphics for commercial multimedia, and finally graphics for games. He hasn't looked back. After making 3D art for Hyperbole Studios’ Quantum Gate interactive movie projects, Jeff spent five years as an art director and level designer at Sierra Studios before coming to Valve.
As a freelance composer and musician, Tim has done it all. He played trumpet for the likes of Ella Fitzgerald, Sheila E., Lou Rawls, Huey Lewis, James Brown, and Natalie Cole; recorded numerous records, movies, documentaries, and TV shows (including Survivor and Fear Factor 2.0) as a studio musician; created the sound design for The Chubbchubbs!, a 2003 Academy Award winner for Best Animated Short Film; and as Audio Director at Cyan studio for eight years, created the music and sound for the Myst series. Now, he’s here at Valve, where he’s worked on just about every title the company has shipped. When he’s not working, Tim is playing tennis, fly fishing, or commuting back and forth to his home and family in Spokane, WA.
Liam showed early promise in his summer job at General Motors making car transmissions. Twice, GM and the UAW awarded him a Certificate of Perfect Attendance. But Liam left the assembly line for the classroom, teaching college and junior high math until a professor named Yau (that would be the Fields Medal-winning Shing-Tung Yau) convinced him to look for other work. Liam’s interest in understanding the rules that govern society led him to law school, and then to Seattle’s K&L Gates firm where he specialized in technology and business law and worked with a number of game companies, including Valve. Right before joining Valve, Liam served as general counsel of Zillow.com.
As a paint fixer and rotoscope artist at the legendary Tippett Studio, Matthew painted a pimple out of Darryl Hannah’s armpit for My Favorite Martian and rotoscoped Kevin Bacon in a black bodysuit for Hollowman. He moved on to legendary Weta Digital to work as an animator and animation lead for The Lord of the Rings trilogy. He came to legendary Valve from Los Angeles where he was the animation supervisor on The Chronicles of Narnia; The Lion The Witch and the Wardrobe, the longest title of any film he’s ever worked on. He’s now animating on Dota 2. Matthew had been eyeing Valve for awhile and is happy to report that he and his family like Seattle much better than LA, although the weather reminds him of that Ray Bradbury short story (All Summer in a Day) where the sun only comes out for two hours every seven years.
After years in the music industry, Doug decided to get a real job. Then he came to his senses and got into the gaming industry instead. As Valve’s Vice President of Marketing, Doug helps manage and coordinate third-party relations, marketing, and press activities.
Joe joined Valve as a programmer in 2009 and has spent his time working on item back ends, trading systems, virtual reality, and hats. These days he is helping out with the software side of Valve's hardware effort. Though he started his game industry career at Sierra in 1998, most of the intervening time was spend on trains and pirate ships during his nine years at Flying Lab software. Before that, he was never in Anthrax, no matter what you may have heard on the internet.
Randy came to Valve from Microsoft, where he worked as an interface designer for the Internet Gaming Zone. Randy designs some of the most unusual and original game levels at Valve. He’s also the designer most likely to push the polygon and memory limits of our engine. In his distant past, he was a key staff member at a potato processing plant where his responsibilities included peeling and quality oversight. He was really good at that too.
Before joining Valve, Scott was Senior Vice President at Havas Interactive where he created and managed the Sierra Studios business unit that published Half-Life. During his five years with Sierra, Scott held a number of different positions in business development, acquisitions, finance, investor relations, and product development. Before Sierra, Scott worked in the public accounting industry for Coopers & Lybrand. In both the audit and tax departments, he managed a range of clients, from small start-ups to Fortune 500 companies. Scott is a graduate of the University of Washington Business School (with a concentration in accounting), and is an inactive Certified Public Accountant in the State of Washington.
In 2001, Ido joined Valve to do art and design levels. He also enjoys photography, foreign films, and advising the President about issues of national importance.
John spent his post college graduate years at a struggling Web 2.0 startup, lured in by the illusion of stock option riches. Since arriving at Valve, he's landed on the Steam team where he works on a little bit of everything, from Shopping Carts to the in-game Overlay. His favorite thing about Valve is having a huge, energetic user base, which benefits from the work he does on Steam.
A bit of an odd-ball, Sergiy joined Valve to do weird low-level stuff and squeeze more blood, um, juice out of the silicone in your gaming machines. Sergiy specializes in systems programming, physics, and applied math. According to him, some games pretend to be simulating physicsy-looking motion. Sergiy made the physics engine behind Uncharted: Drake's Fortune while at Naughty Dog, and the animation system in Far Cry during his lazy years at Crytek. There were a few other odd jobs here and there, but the list is long and boring, and mostly lost in the eons that have passed.
After eight years leading ATI's 3D Application Research Group, Jason was finally seduced by the entertainment industry. He's now putting his 3D graphics hardware knowledge to use on just about every project at Valve. Jason frequently publishes on a variety of real-time rendering topics and periodically speaks at graphics and game development conferences around the world. While joining Valve has significantly cut down on Jason's international jet-setting, he's still the man to see if you're looking for a stuporous late night Tokyo karaoke escapade. Oh yeah, and he has a
Morasky's life and career sounds a lot like one of the post-modern audio collages he is so fond of creating. Teenage guitar player in a bar band in Montana; award-winning experimental composer in Tokyo; audio hardware programmer in Silicon Valley; underground art rocker touring the world; 3D animator and director for television; electronic audio collage artist in France and Japan; visual fx artist on The Lord of the Rings and Matrix trilogies; AI animation instructor at an art college. These days, Mike is doing some combination of all these things at Valve.
John Morello II
John is an animator most of the time. He’s been a gamer since his parents bought their Commodore 64. As a high-schooler he made small Quake mods and became addicted to Team Fortress. After graduating, his brother introduced him to the guys on the Day of Defeat team. They wanted to ship their mod, but they needed animation help. John jumped in. Valve eventually invited John and the rest of the team to continue DoD development at Valve’s offices. At this point, John has worked on nearly every product we've shipped. His TF obsession is over - replaced by an addiction to DotA, and lapping his Ducati at local road courses.
Arsenio "Shopkeeper" Navarro
Arsenio is responsible for merchandise licensing, retail and wholesale Valve Store sales, retail product development, and event support. In his spare time you can catch Arsenio creating art, beat boxing, and playing TF2…at the same time.
Dina has a degree in “Human Rehabilitation.” She rehabilitates humans in the software industry by bringing them to Valve, where their brains, bodies, and families are rejuvenated after having been oppressed by various working conditions elsewhere. Not content with dispensing the obvious perks like a rewarding work environment and fat paychecks, Dina spoils us by employing an army of fringe benefit specialists to boost the rehab magic.
Gabe held a number of positions in the Systems, Applications, and Advanced Technology divisions during his 13 years at Microsoft. His responsibilities included running program management for the first two releases of Windows, starting the company's multimedia division, and leading efforts on the Information Highway PC. Then he started Valve. His most significant contribution to Half-Life, the company’s debut title, was his statement: "C'mon, people, you can't show the player a really big bomb and not let them blow it up."
Things started well enough for Aaron Nicholls. He was born into a loving family and showed tremendous promise. Then he discovered video games, and spent the rest of his youth playing or programming them. After college, he joined Microsoft’s Windows division. When he discovered that Microsoft had a games division, he promptly transferred there. During the next several years, he lived a double life as a manager/coder, working on Gears of War, Halo 3, and Jade Empire, among others. Since joining Valve, Aaron has been jumping between gameplay, design, and system work. In his spare time, he runs, climbs, travels, reads, and cooks, although not simultaneously.
Martin comes to us from Germany, where he earned a Master’s degree in Computer Science from Dortmund University. Martin is best known for programming “Argus” (for Quake) and "Half-Life TV” (as a contractor for Valve). Since arriving in Washington State, Martin has lost all the hubcaps on his Volkswagen and single-handedly stopped Seattle traffic by strolling across the street in a bath robe while sipping a white Russian. Not bad for a "poor German boy." Martin also enjoys listening to the band Manowar since, after all, some bands play, but Manowar kills.
Tony got into game programming via the mod community in 2001. He created several server plugins and was responsible for the first online Team Fortress 2 backpack viewer. He continued this work as a hobby while studying Computer Science at Cal Poly in San Luis Obispo, CA. Before coming to Valve in 2011, to work on his passion, Tony spent two years at Microsoft helping to develop the next version of Visual Studio.
The question Jay gets asked most often is: “How do you become a video game writer?” Answer: “It’s actually incredibly simple. Decide you want to be a comedy writer. Spend the majority of your twenties climbing the comedy-writing ladder. Get impressive-sounding jobs as editor of National Lampoon and Cracked.com. Reach the highest rung of the internet comedy-writing ladder. Come to the horrifying realization that internet comedy writing is a thankless, awful job that pays slightly less than a job professionally finding money on the street. Realize you have no employable skills other than making people with employable skills laugh. Despair. Then, and this part is the most important, have Portal get released somewhere around this time, create a seismic impact, and have everyone in the game industry decide they need established comedy writers for their games.”
Karen grew up near Seattle and embarked on her first career as a puppeteer in 1980. She performed popular film and television puppet characters for 16 years, most notably Red Fraggle in Fraggle Rock and the Worm in Labyrinth. Her second career as a computer animator included work on the award-winning Pixar films Geri’s Game, For the Birds, A Bug’s Life, and Toy Story 2. She is now well into a third career in video games at Valve, tackling testing, development, and animating exuberant characters such as Wheatley the star sphere in Portal 2. Karen continues to do occasional puppet performances and enjoys yoga, kayaking, hiking, biking, and exploring the beautiful Pacific Northwest.
How did a Portuguese-speaking, snowboard-loving farm girl from Oakdale, Ca. wind up doing HR benefits and payroll administration for a video game company in Bellevue, WA? It probably had to do with her switch from accounting to HR management at Chico State; and those stints at a legal/econ consulting firm and at Gracenote, Sony’s music tech company; and the transition from San Francisco to Seattle; and that former colleague who knew somebody who knew somebody who worked for Valve. But you know what? We don’t really care how Elizabeth wound up at Valve. We just thank the gods she’s here. Twice a month.. When we get those paychecks. Like clockwork.
Alireza moved to Canada (via Iran and Turkey) when he was nine. His first impressions of the west were the films TRON, Die Hard, and Lawnmower Man. Inspired by this trinity of action, art, and science he chose a career in 3D animation and visual effects. After earning a Bachelor's and a post-graduate degree in animation from Sheridan Institute of Technology, Ali went to London to start work on his first film. He was 24. He now works at Valve where he drives the effort to transform visual effects into a dynamic interactive experience – and blows stuff up.
Brandon Reinhart broke into the industry in 1998 when he landed a job as a gameplay programmer on Unreal Tournament for Epic Games. He spent several years at 3D Realms, Sony Online Entertainment, and Spacetime Studios working on Duke Nukem Forever, Star Wars Galaxies, and Blackstar. Brandon joined Valve in 2008 and intends to spend the rest of his life working here.
Alfred joined Valve as a software engineer in 2002. He has contributed to the development of Counter-Strike, Half-Life 2, and Steam. He also does his best to maintain the Linux ports of our games. Most recently, he led development efforts to bring third-party applications to the Steam platform. Prior to Valve, Alfred worked for an Australian research organization; he would be forced to kill anyone who discovered the true nature of his work there. He is also the one to blame for starting plug-ins on Half-Life servers and, in particular, for creating Admin mod.
Matt came to Valve from Microsoft, where he worked on stuff ranging from UI to device drivers. Like many members of the Steam team he is a generalist, meaning he genuinely finds just about everything interesting. In his spare time, Matt enjoys hanging out with his family, and learning new things via serial hobbies.
Dave started working on games in his spare time back in the days of Doom and Quake. His work caught our eye and we lured him here from the East Coast to work on Half-Life. Now that he’s added code writing to his bag of tricks, Dave works tirelessly to improve the experience of every single diehard Team Fortress 2 fan. That’s right, you know who you are. It’s all for you.
After earning a Master’s in Sculpture in 1996, Erik made the most of that degree by working cash registers and designing web pages. As creatively satisfying as those occupations were, he couldn’t shake the feeling that he should be doing more with his life. He spent six months creating Quake levels and, in 1998, landed a job designing levels for Cyclone Studios’ Requiem. For the next 12 years he served as Lead Designer at 3DO and Double Fine Productions. Finally, in 2010, he dragged his wife up to the Pacific Northwest and took a job at Valve.
David makes cool levels that you love to play. That is all.
Wade has worked in the game industry as an artist since 1998, and for Valve since 2005. In his spare time, he participates in group art shows and experiments with 3d printing and casting.
Chris is probably the sixth oldest person at Valve but his coworkers marvel at the childlike wonder in his eyes as they remind him what he is supposed to be doing, what he had for lunch or where his desk is located. Warm, friendly and quick to laugh at almost anything, Chris is learning as much from the younger folks at Valve as he is able to teach, but mostly he just creeps us out.
Taylor joined Valve in 2001 to help develop Steam, and has been part of that team ever since. His previous experience ranges from DVD emulation to air combat simulators for the military. He has a Bachelor's degree in electrical engineering from The Cooper Union in New York City. When he's not working, Taylor can usually be found rehearsing or playing guitar with the Tuning The Air
ensemble here in Seattle.
Eric joined Valve in 2000 after graduating from the DigiPen Institute of Technology in Redmond, WA. Before DigiPen, he worked for Nintendo of America. But when DigiPen opened its doors in the U.S. in January 1998, Eric saw an opportunity to change careers and make games instead of just playing them.
David developed telecommunications software in Boulder, Colorado before he came to Valve. During his time here he's been a programmer/designer and cabal lead on Half-Life 2 and Half-Life 2: Episode Two. He has also worked quite a lot on our Hammer level editor over the years. A fan of recreational physical suffering, David goes rock climbing in his spare time. He has dragged many a pale and shaking Valve employee along on adventures in vertiginous terror.
After getting a B.S. degree from Caltech, Kutta decided that making video games for a living was probably the next best thing to playing them all day in his dorm room. He joined Microsoft at age 19 and worked on Xbox and Xbox 360 games (Gears of War, Halo 3, Mass Effect, Lost Odyssey, Crackdown, Fable 2). There was also a stint in there with the DirectX team working on DirectX 9 & 10 shader technologies. Now Kutta's a systems and game programmer at Valve, working on whatever happens to strike his fancy. When he's not coding, sleeping, or cooking, Kutta spends his time climbing rocks, riding bikes, and snowboarding off things that he really ought not to.
Jay joined Valve from Tetragon where he was lead engineer and 3D engine developer of Virgin's Nanotek Warrior. Before that, he developed titles for Sony Playstation & 3DO. Way before that, he wrote his first computer game (at age 9) and had a game published in a magazine (at age 15). A native of Cajun Country, Jay finds Northwest buildings too hot (what, no air conditioning?) and the food not hot enough.
Anna is responsible for general business development, focusing on Steam distribution and Steamworks integration. She joined Valve in 2008, after working at Microsoft and MySpace, and earning a computer science degree from Rochester Institute of Technology. In her spare time, she plays a lot of soccer, volunteers at a cat shelter and regularly reminds her mother how growing up she was told that "no one would ever pay her to play video games".
Kelly came to Valve via the Half-Life mod community. While earning a Master's degree in Business at the University of Missouri-St. Louis, he helped develop and do sound work for Day of Defeat. He saw a career in video game development and sound engineering as the obvious next step after the MBA - and an undergraduate degree in Biology - so he packed his things and headed west to Valve. Today, you can find Kelly in his office, surrounded by WWII books and memorabilia, wearing a fat pair of headphones, and wondering how in the world he actually landed a job he loves doing.
Alex focuses on graphics programming and shader development at Valve. He joined the company in 2006, during development of The Orange Box
. Previously, he worked as Lead Visual Effects Programmer at Naughty Dog during development of Uncharted: Drake's Fortune
; Lead Programmer on ATI’s Demo Team
; and as a software developer for the SpaceOrb 360. Alex grew up in Fort Lee, New Jersey, and is a graduate of Boston University. Here's his website
Robin Walker co-wrote the hugely popular Quake mod "Team Fortress," before being assimilated when Valve acquired Team Fortress Software. Since then, he has been responsible for design, code, and management on various Valve products.
Josh Weier (like "wire")
Josh cut his teeth on multiple FPS titles in the frozen tundra of Wisconsin before coming to Valve to work on Half-Life 2. Since that time he’s never been too far from Alyx, zombies, or handheld portal devices. Whether it’s programming new AI behaviors, working on level design, or just sitting with a group of incredibly talented people in front of a whiteboard trying to solve a problem, it’s never a dull day at the office.
Chris began his journey to video games as a pre-med student. Much to his mother’s dismay, a few years into his studies he switched from becoming a doctor to becoming an artist. He studied animation and visual effects at Brigham Young University and went on to become a Biomedical Illustrator and Animator for large pharmaceutical, surgical, and orthopedic companies. Later he went on to work at Weta Digital in New Zealand where he led the Look/Development for Jake and Neytiri, the main (alien) characters in the movie “Avatar”. He also did extensive creature texture painting and worked on other movies as well, such as The Adventures of Tin Tin, where he painted and shaded the textures for Tin Tin himself, as well as the Captain. He has now been at Valve for several years doing character design and other game art related things. Although he sucks at actually playing video games, he loves working on them.
Once upon a time, Andrea was a disheveled, San Francisco artist, making a living as an illustrator. She did newsmaker profiles and such for Rolling Stone, Spin, and The Wall Street Journal, to name a few. Sadly, her life dream of illustrating children’s books fizzled, as her paintings, according to one art director, would “scare the children.” Which makes her perfect for Valve. She joined the company in late 2006. Since arriving, she’s done a little of everything, from character design to comic books (Lab Rat) to hand modeling. (Yes, Andrea is “the hand” of Left 4 Dead.) On her days off, she paints with real, non-electronic paint and listens to loud music—loud enough to drown out her singing voice.
Erik Wolpaw's father attended Yale, became a successful lawyer, got disbarred, lost everything, and went to jail for a while. Later, he and Erik lived in a horrible ghetto apartment where Erik used the Yale alumni magazine to smash cockroaches. From this inauspicious start, Erik eventually went on to not graduate from high school. Now he writes dialog for video games, including the award-winning Psychonauts, Portal, and Portal 2. Prior to that he was a freelance writer and before that he co-founded Old Man Murray. It's not like he became a surgeon or anything, but it's not too bad, considering.
Doug came to Valve in the early days - 1997, to be exact – so there aren’t many titles he hasn’t touched. But most of his work has been animating for the Half-Life series. Before coming to Valve, Doug did time at Origin in Austin, and at 3DRealms in Dallas, where he worked on Duke Nukem 3D.
Matt T. Wood
At age 19, Matt left his home state of Pennsylvania for the sweltering heat of Dallas, Texas. There he became 3D Realms’ first level designer on its first real 3D game, Prey. Since then, he’s worked on Duke Nukem Forever as a designer, animator, and modeler. He also contributed to Max Payne. In 2003, Matt moved to Valve to work on Team Fortress 2 and Half-Life 2. He is (as far as we know) the only person in the world to have worked on four of Wired magazine's top-rated vaporware games. When Half-Life 2 shipped in 2004, the curse that prevented games that Matt worked on from getting shipped was finally broken. Now, he helps Valve ship games often, working primarily as a level and game designer, and gameplay programmer. Matt is happy to say that (in addition to the games mentioned above) he’s contributed to - and shipped Counter-Strike: Source, Half-Life: Episode One, Half-Life: Episode Two, Left 4 Dead, Left 4 Dead 2, Alien Swarm, and Portal 2 on multiple platforms.
Shawn was raised by the best mom ever. Since joining Valve in 2007, he’s been designing and implementing the Steam user experience. And he's terrific at it. But what we all marvel at is how polite and well-groomed Shawn is. People passing through the lunchroom often stop and stare at his supernaturally excellent table manners. It's like working with David Niven. Shawn is also very helpful and clever. Everyone likes him. You did a great job, Mrs. Zabecki.
As Valve's Steam Translation
Administrator, Torsten coordinates all our text localization, ensuring that millions of Valve customers and partners around the globe believe we actually have offices in Germany, Spain, Russia, and France, just to name a few.
Zoid (yes, just Zoid - like Cher) showed up on the radar shortly after Quake was released. He made a mod called “Threewave Capture the Flag,” which people really liked. Come to think of it, it’s probably Zoid's fault that most multiplayer first person games seem to include a capture the flag gameplay mode. After capturing far too many flags, Zoid joined Retro Studios and helped develop Metroid Prime and its sequels for the Gamecube. After a two-year stint at Carbine Studios (working on an MMO game), he decided to get back to his roots and join us here at Valve.