Valve Pipeline Seeks The Curious & Self-Directed Over The Compliant & “Educated”

The Valve Pipeline is an interesting project by Valve, the video game developers behind Half-Life, Portal, DOTA 2, Steambox, and the industry-changing Steam software storefront.

The same smart guys and gals that are taking on giants like Sony and Microsoft in the upcoming console wars (new consoles from both Sony and Microsoft will be released this fall, and will compete directly with one another–often aggressively–thus the hyperbolic “war” phrasing) are now launching a program that butts heads with the century-plus long precedence set by universities as well.

This is “only” a video game company, by the way.

How It Works

The concept is simple: launch a program that experiments with the idea of training curious and passionate high school graduates pursuing their passion, rather than brow-beaten 24 year old college graduates “looking for a job.”

Subtle but important distinction, valuing curiosity and apprenticeship over completion and certification.

Their unique corporate structure–something that can be seen in Valve’s employee handbook–is telling: no hierarchy, no micro-managing, employees are to be self-directed, and in many ways curiosity-based. So it makes sense that they might suspect that a student with a “college degree” might not be the best fit.

Only 12 years of highly-industrialized and top-down learning versus 16?

Or maybe they just want to break every child labor law ever written.

What Valve Says

“There are two main reasons that Valve is creating Pipeline. The first is that we are frequently asked questions by teenagers about the videogame industry. “What is it like to work on videogames? What should I study? What colleges are best for preparing me? How do I get a job in videogames?” Pipeline will be a place where those questions can be discussed.

“The second is that Valve is running an experiment. Traditionally Valve has been a very good place for very experienced videogame developers, and not so good at teaching people straight out of school (the reasons for this and the tradeoffs are covered in the Valve employee handbook).

“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.”

Students can sign-up for the program here, though few program details are currently available.