Former Valve employee exposes “hidden layer” of power

Former Valve hardware chief describes working at Valve like “high school”

July 9, 2013
Valve-logo-ice

Valve is often looked upon with a sense of gamer-reverence; one of the few game industry mega-companies with a squeaky-clean reputation. However, a former employee has opened up about some of the underlying structures of the development studio.

Jeri Ellsworth, who was laid-off in February 2013 and was one of the company’s well-known hardware developers, has explained that there was no “pseudo-flat structure” and the comforting Valve Handbook for New Employees doesn’t exactly tell the whole story.

“When I first started at Valve,” said Ellsworth, “I was very sceptical… but they started pumping me up, and telling me how I’d have all this control of the hardware group and be able to form the group as I’d like, so I started to drink the Kool-Aid.”

“Many of you have probably seen the Valve handbook, which is a very idealised view of what Valve is like. A lot of those things are true in there, like it is kind of a pseudo-flat structure where, at least in small groups, you’re all peers and you make decisions together.”

“The one thing that I found out the hard way is that there is actually a hidden layer of powerful management structure in the company. And it feels–felt–a lot like high school.”

Jerri Ellsworth

Jeri Ellsworth

Ellsworth went on to explain that a lot of “popular kids” had acquired the power in the company, and Ellsworth’s job was made harder after the “old-timers in Valve” found her recruits to not fit the culture of the company.

Ellsworth went on about the flat structure, saying that it “works on a small scale”, but “breaks down terribly when you start looking at a company of, like, 300 people.”

Ellsworth also recounted that she learnt she was fired from a co-worker and that ultimately, she doesn’t think Valve’s management structure works.

“I’m sounding bitter, and I am. I am really, really bitter because they promised me the world, and then backstabbed me,” she added.

“You give people complete latitude with no checks and balances, it’s just human nature they’re going to try to minimise the work they have to do and maximise the control they have.”

Ellsworth is currently working on the CastAR project.

Source: Grey Area Podcast via Eurogamer

More gaming news:

This is the man who won John Carmack’s Ferrari

Teen jailed after League of Legends outburst

Game dev arrested on child porn charges

Earthworm Jim sequel in development?

Xbox One reputation system pools rage-quitters together

Tags: gabe newell, headline, Jeri Ellsworth, Valve, Valve Corporation

Shutterstock is the image partner of MyGaming – technology images can be found here

Poll

Are the next-gen consoles worth buying into yet?

View Results

Loading ... Loading ...

Latest News

Games that will test your friendship

Mario-KArt-7-Header-2

If you value your friendships, think twice before playing these games co-op

X-ray console art

X-ray

Ever wondered what an X-ray of your console would look like? Wonder no more

The best movie character cameos in video games

Soul Calibur 4

There is something special about seeing your favourite movie character in a game, it makes you feel all warm and fuzzy inside

Metal Gear Solid 5 – done GTA 5 style

GTA Video

A homage to Metal Gear Solid 5, through the medium of Grand Theft Auto

bool(true)