27 February 13
Find out more about the 2013 Games Awards Fellow Gabe Newell, CEO of video game developer Valve.
On 5 March, Valve CEO Gabe Newell was awarded the Academy Fellowship at the British Academy Games Awards . He follows in the footsteps of Peter Molyneux (Populous, Theme Park), Shigeru Miyamoto (Mario, The Legend of Zelda), Nolan Bushnell (founder of Atari, Pong) and Will Wright (SimCity, The Sims).
Avid gamer Jonathan Ross presented Newell with his BAFTA Fellowship Award. BAFTA/ Richard Kendal
Prior to establishing games company Valve, Newell worked for Microsoft for 13 years, where he was a producer on the first three releases of Windows. In 1996, Newell founded Valve with his colleague Mike Harrington. The first game they produced was the seminal first-person shooter Half-Life.
Before its release, Newell stated that they “were pretty dubious that we were going to do anything other than make a mediocre game and then end up crawling back to Microsoft with our tails between our legs” . Despite Newell’s initial doubts, the game was an astonishing critical and commercial success, pushing the boundaries of what could be achieved in a first-person shooter game and establishing Valve as one of the leading game developers. In 1998, Half-Life won over 50 Game of the Year awards and was nominated for three Interactive BAFTA Awards. Its 2004 sequel Half-Life 2 was equally successful, winning six BAFTAs.
One of the hallmarks throughout Newell’s career has been his belief in “working with the online community” and supporting the ‘Modders’ who have created their own variants from Valve’s existing games. One of the most successful examples of this is Counter-Strike; initially modified by users of Half-Life, Valve went on to develop the multiplayer game further, where it established itself as the number one online action game.
Valve’s online digital distribution platform Steam is the epitome of the company’s ideology towards improving the experience of gaming for users and developers. As Newell recently stated in an interview with The Verge, he sees Steam “as tools for content developers and tools for producers. We’re just always thinking: how do we want to make content developers’ lives better and users’ lives a lot better?”
Newell’s approach to game development has been singled out by Harvey Elliot, Chair of BAFTA’s Games Committee: “his work in giving back to the games industry through developing and showcasing other games makers has been outstanding. He is an inspirational developer and truly deserving of our Fellow recognition."
With Portal 2 winning Best Game at the BAFTA Games Awards in 2012 , and the Left 4 Dead series continuing to flourish, Valve repeatedly set new benchmarks in the gaming industry. As ever, Newell refuses to take sole credit for the company’s success. As he recently remarked upon hearing about his Fellowship...
I look forward to accepting this prestigious honor on behalf of everyone in our community”
Join the conversation on BAFTA's social media channels
Stay up-to-date with the latest BAFTA news, events and online content.Join the list