It’s either insane, or absolutely brilliant. Valve has always taken an unconventional approach to game development, but I’ve never known how unconventional — at least, until now. Recently a copy of their employee handbook leaked online, and while I can’t imagine they were pleased about it happening, what’s done is done. The 56 page 2012 New Employee Handbook details the companies internal practices, internal structure (or lack thereof) and comes littered with hilarious diagrams and in-jokes many of which relate to the various games they’ve released over the years.
What amazes me is the amount of freedom each employee is granted with seemingly little oversight. That said, balancing that freedom against peer-based performance reviews actually makes a lot of sense. If you’re not busy vying for someone else’s job, it stops being a competition which goes a long way towards eliminating bias, thus encouraging a fair and honest work environment. It doesn’t address personal bias, but I’m sure a fair amount would likely occur in any given workplace. If you don’t find this kind of thing interesting, there’s always the glossary attached to the back. If anything, that’s sure to dish a few laughs. Still, the entire book serves as a great example of forward-thinking in an industry seemingly plagued by over-worked, and underpaid employees. You can view the handbook here for the time being — I assume it’ll likely be removed at some point.