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The “Valve Handbook For New Employees”, In Its Entirety

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You may or may not know that Valve does not function like your average organization, let alone video game studio. There’s no hierarchy, which means no one’s your boss and you’re not anyone’s underling. This also means you get to choose exactly what you do by actively moving from project to project. Technically, all 300-plus employees are running the company. Of course, this means that for a new hire, fitting in and finding your place can be a difficult task.

A good way to solve that is to offer new hires with more than enough information, explaining how this system works and why it works so well. But how does one cram all that information into a small, easy-to-consult package? Simple – make a handbook!

The “Valve Handbook For New Employees”, In Its Entirety

Created in conjunction with Filter Digital, the Valve Handbook for New Employees, subtitled: “A fearless adventure in knowing what to do when no one’s there telling you what to do” is a brand new, 75-page strategy guide of sorts for getting settled in over at the Big V. New hirees – such as Jeff Keyzer, who has already received his copy, and will soon be working at Valve within their hardware R&D team – will be given these handbooks, so that they can start making hats and building Ricochet 2, as quickly as possible.

Courtesy of Snakez of the Flamehaus, who asked for and received a PDF copy from Valve’s Greg Coomer, we can now take a look at the first edition of the handbook, in its entirety. It features more info than ever on how Valve functions, hires, and develops its games (there’s even a sighting of a Half-Life 3 dev team member, and there’s also some interesting mentions of the Borealis and Kraken Base), it includes a lengthy timeline chronicling Valve’s history, and it’s filled with hilarious diagrams, illustrations, as well as a Valve glossary explaining the definitions of terms such as: “Ponies”; “14-Year Old Boy”; and “Shitty Wizard”.

I suppose it’s a shame Valve doesn’t do game manuals anymore. But at least new Valve employees don’t get a Quick Reference Card for New Employees or something. Still, couldn’t possibly be any more disappointing than opening up a Half-Life 3/Ricochet 2 game box to reveal a flimsy card explaining how to insert a disc in a disc drive.


  1. Reading this with a friend, we had an illuminating moment: you know how they all work on what they want to work on and there’s nobody to tell anyone to work on something specific?
    That’s why there’s no Episode 3 out yet, everyone probably thinks someone else’s working on it XD

  2. Needs to be available in retail! For everyone! Hat included when pre-purchase (a real one)!

  3. That was a really cool read. Valve is really something else entirely when it comes to business operations. Some aspects of the company’s organization seems counter-intuitive but looks to work pretty well. Btw Vic, really awesome website you got here. Great stuff.

  4. I noticed that it’s apparently made by “Valve Press”. Are they abandoning Dark Horse for their comics?

    • I think that’s just a “nom de guerre”, so to speak, which they may or may not have used in the past, IIRC. I’m sure they’ll keep working together with Dark Horse in the future.

    • Well this isn’t published as paid content, so they’d have to use some sort of name. I doubt they could use “Dark Horse” even if it was just internal.

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