Portal: the movie?

(via Reddit) According to Polygon.com, J.J. Abrams is in talks with Gabe Newell about making movies about Portal and/or Half Life.  This conversation took place during a Keynote talk about storytelling across platforms at the 2013 DICE summit, which before today is a thing I didn't know existed.  That talk took place today, and isn't up online yet.  I'm looking forward to seeing it.

My first thought when I read that Portal might be a movie was "No way."  I'm a little embarrassed that I had that reactionary response, because it's not fair -- the response under it, the thing that makes sense to me, is "How the hell would you make a movie out of Portal?  It's such a game."  The medium of the game, specifically the game, Portal, not just the medium of 'games,' tells the story of Portal better than any other way I can imagine, because the story was written specifically to fit the game, not the other way around.

Obviously, there's a huge difference between "I don't know how this could be done" and "This shouldn't be done."  I think it definitely should, if J.J. Abrams is on board and Valve is fully involved.  These are people with a real interest, investment and history in demanding more of their chosen media, and a Portal movie might be an avenue into new revelations for both games and film.

Or, I mean, they could make the Half Life movie instead.

I am translating the Valve Employee Handbook

I blogged last week about how awesome Valve's employee handbook is.  This weekend I decided to start performing, er, I guess you'd call it a cross-context translation, on it.  I'm about two thirds of the way through, and I'm beginning to feel like this won't be as easy as I thought. When I was reading the handbook, it occurred to me that it would be a great set of general instructions for living a happy, decent and productive life.  So in the rewrite, I'm basically just removing all references to Valve, and replacing "the company" with "humankind," "Customers" with "other people," and so on.

I think this is turning out to be a really good start, but it's going to need a few more versions before it makes sense.  The translation out of literal context and into a more metaphorical worldview-suggestion pamphlet is not a straightforward one.  Things that are clear in the book, like the lack of management, will require more explanation to get the appropriate metaphorical resonance out of it.

If anyone wants to help, I'll be finished the raw translation soon and would love input.  You can reach me at watson@txwatson.com.

Valve has a really cool employee handbook

(via SourceFed on Tumblr) I apparently missed this story in April, but Valve's employee orientation handbook leaked -- and it describes the coolest workplace ever.

It's a very pretty handbook, first of all.  This doesn't look like someone scanned a stack of papers they found in a photocopier tray.  It's drenched in Valve's company philosophy, which is all based around not letting anyone be in charge -- or, maybe more accurately, putting everyone in charge.

With just a little bit of tweaking, the handbook could be used not just as an orientation guide to fit into Valve's workplace culture, but as a set of instructions on how to be a good person[1. if we assume good means useful.].

My favorite part was the hiring guide.  Since everyone at Valve has the authority to hire new people,  and, indeed, to do basically whatever they want with the company resources, they place hiring above absolutely everything else in scale of importance.

The guide for what kind of people they're looking for also looks quite a lot like a guide for what sort of person one should strive to be, in order to maximize one's contribution to the world around oneself.  They say they're looking for T-shaped people:

The horizontal part of the T represents a broad range of general competence -- the person should be reasonably good at a whole bunch of things.  The vertical part represents deep expertise -- there should be something that person can contribute at a higher level of quality than pretty much everyone else.

Check it out -- it's a really cool read, whether you want to work for Valve or not.  (I kinda do, now.)