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Valve launch Pipeline: a “direct feed of knowledge” for young industry hopefuls


“This website was created entirely by teenagers such as yourself,” exclaims the man with the beard. Ah. You can’t possibly mean me, Gabe Newell. I’m housebound by hay fever, working from a recliner with buttons that allow me to adjust my footrest by the inch – does that sound teenage to you?

So Pipeline isn’t a Valve initiative that’ll benefit all of us – at least not directly. Instead it’s two things: an online resource designed to help school-age students plan their paths into the games industry, and an experimental program created to discover how younger employees take to Valve’s unique company structure.

The Pipeline site will feature staff interviews and tutorials on art, sound design and the like, as well as forums for the discussion of the best possible courses, colleges, and at length, careers. It seems Valve are interested in helping out bright young things, whether they necessarily end up on the other side of the desk from Newell and friends or not. But of course, it’s not an entirely philanthropic venture.

“Another reason why Pipeline is being introduced is to see how a group of younger employees functions at a company like Valve,” elucidates program video creator and editor Nathanial. “Valve has been mainly known to employ very experienced individuals, and this is pretty much a test to see how a group of younger employees can adapt to the work structure.”

“Traditionally Valve has been a very good place for very experienced videogame developers, and not so good at teaching people straight out of school,” add Valve in their FAQ. “Pipeline is an experiment to see if we can take a group of high school students with minimal work experience and train them in the skills and methods necessary to be successful at a company like Valve.”

If the insinuations of a former, fired employee are to be believed – rather than seasoned with a generous helping of salt and chewed slowly as they probably ought to be – the invisible hierarchy of high school might have left these students better-prepared than they dared expect.

It’s certainly a lovely-looking site. But I’m a tad confused as to the role of this new teenage cabal within Valve’s Bellevue offices. Are they future designers and producers with fingers already in Valve’s sacred projects? Or are they to be in-house industry journalists and web designers?