The internet cult of Gabe Newell

By Ned Donovan

“I can be reached at [email protected] and my favourite class is the Spy”

These are the innocent words from 2007 which began a cult devoted to the following of Gabe Newell, the co-founder of games company Valve.

The man who is now regarded as the Messiah for PC gamers began his career at Microsoft, becoming one of the famous “Microsoft Millionaires”. It was when Newell saw the popular game Doom that he realised that video games would become the future of entertainment, and created Valve. The company has released some of the most popular PC games of all time, including the Counter Strike games, Team Fortress, and most famously the Half Life series. Most recently, focus has been on the Steam Box, bringing the wonders of Valve and Steam to the living room.

The Steambox

The Steam Box

It is unclear entirely how Mr Newell, or “Gaben” as the Internet knows him, became such a worshipped figure outside of the fact that he makes games. Some suggest it is due to his closeness to the gamers themselves, rather than being seen as a distant corporate overlord. This is best found in the delivery platform Steam which Newell helped create, and which has taken the PC gaming market by storm in recent years.

Part of “the Lord’s Gospel” are the Steam sales that appear at different times of the year, lowering the prices of popular games by up to 90%. For this, Gaben, “Destroyer of Wallets” is revered online.

A lot of the buzz around Gabe Newell comes from the ever-increasing tension and internet obsession with Half Life 3, the so far unannounced threequel to the successful Half Life series. The game is demanded by online fans, but ignored by Valve and it has become somewhat of a staple internet joke. When Newell was asked about it on reddit recently he stated that,

Each 3 joke is one fewer fat joke, so bonus

However despite his widespread popularity, the larger than life businessman does little to encourage his online fan base. In a recent thread posted on reddit to promote a racing team he sponsors, Newell made a rare appearance and responded to a question from his disciples on how to honour his presence on the site. And Gaben answering said unto them,

Hot pockets must be consumed

Ham and cheese hot pocket, yum

Ham and cheese hot pocket, yum

And the word became flesh, and dwelt among us, and we beheld his glory, glory as of the only begotten from the Father, full of microwaved cheese and meat. In truth the fans didn’t know really how to respond, and despite many requests Newell refused to answer most questions on Valve, instead focusing on his charity efforts.

Fanatical disciples

The fans create some interesting Photoshop works

The fans create some interesting Photoshop works

Much of Newell’s fame stems from fanatical subreddits like /r/gaben where disciples not only create disturbing Photoshops, but also show off their Gaben swag in their own homes.

Homemade “Gaben” devotional items include a pillow with his face on it with the words “Goodnight, sweet Prince”, a Gabe Newell birthday cake and a customised debit card with adorned with Newell’s face.

A Gaben birthday cake

Customised debit card

Oh, and a sleep mask emblazoned with Newell’s spectacles.

Sweet dreams

Sweet dreams

In another subreddit /r/pcmasterrace, he is regarded as the Glorious Leader, and they recently had a 550 comment-long discussion on his recent weight loss, becoming their third most popular thread of all time. Included within the depths of comments was the line describing Gaben as “Majestic bringer of enlightenment to the world”.

Whether or not he does possess the ability to bring about enlightment, talented game developer Gabe Newell has accidentally created a legion of online fans who hang on his every word. And with big things rumoured to be coming from Valve in 2014, things can only get crazier.