Posted by Asif on May 11th, 2011
Rob Crossley, of Develop magazine, recently published an article investigating Valve’s development process, trying to pinpoint the reason they’ve been consistently able to produce high quality and successful games. His investigation led him to the bizarre and, frankly, pretty moronic conclusion that their development process is “dangerously approaching socialism”.
I don’t know if Rob Crossley knows what socialism is. Actually, I don’t know if he knows what “dangerously” means, because, as far as I know, Valve just makes videogames. So, even if they were the most socialist entity in the world, their influence would be relegated to the games industry, which is a lot like being the most socialist porn production company: no one cares.
To him a hierarchy-free, highly collaborative environment is socialism. Unorthodox? Sure. Socialist? If the only thing that was necessary to be socialist was to not have a hierarchy and let people manage themselves, then maybe. Now, we just have to forget that socialism is an economic system and we’re all set! On a related note, if you forget that animals other than elephants have four legs, suddenly the Earth is covered with elephants. Insane, I know.
He pushes the socialist angle pretty far in a section entitled “The Valve Manifesto,” which is also the title of the entire article, because communists and socialists love manifestos. He starts by saying:
As Karl Marx might’ve said, developer freedom is the opium of the masses.
I don’t even know where to start with that. Actually, I do: Karl Marx wouldn’t have said that, ever. As Gary Coleman might’ve said, whatchu talkin’ ’bout, jackass?
Developer freedom is championed throughout the article and is in many ways its entire point, but by claiming it’s “the opium of the masses,” hypothetical Marx is pretty clearly disparaging developer freedom. Rob Crossley drilled a hole so deep through common sense that he got all the way to the Moon.
Crossley continues to confound with this next bit:
To accept it works, to admire [Valve's] glorious communal and socialist system, is in part an admission that the rigid studio structure should be reassessed.
Before Crossley was claiming that there was something dangerous about Valve’s alleged socialist system, but now it’s “glorious”? I have a new theory that I’ve just thought up: Rob Crossley is a socialist. He’s a terrible socialist with a poor grasp on the basics, but if you think about it, the numerous insinuations that Valve, a privately owned corporation, is running a socialist system, suddenly make a lot more sense. He throws us off the scent by associating an element of danger to these caaaaraaaa-zzzaaaaay! socialist ideas. He practically recoiled, threw his arms in the air, and told everyone, “I’m just reporting the facts, man.” But it wasn’t long before he gave up, started poorly quoting Marx, and called the whole thing glorious.
Up to this point, this has been a pretty major bash session on Rob Crossley. I’m sure Rob is a really nice person, who is also a socialist monster. If I could say one nice thing about Rob, it’s that he’s really excellent at talking to people at Valve, then writing down what they say. He did a really good job with that. In fact, read the whole article. It’s a fascinating read. Just ignore the parts where he starts analyzing anything. For all his skill at talking to people, then reporting their replies to others, his analyzation skills could use some work. The entire population of China could fit in the distance between where Rob’s critical thinking is now and where it should be. Then they’d have to lift China’s one child per couple limit to fill the rest of the space.
Also, congratulations to Rob Crossley for leading the first manned mission to the Moon in almost 40 years. Good work, pal.