July 16, 2013, 11:49 AM — Valve, the company responsible for the games Half Life and Portal, now is working to bring back a format used by public TV's show Zoom ("by kids, for kids"), with a new initiative known as "Pipeline."
Pipeline, created by high-school interns at the popular game studio, is meant to answer many of the questions aspiring high-school developers have about the games industry.
"Traditionally Valve has been a very good place for very experienced videogame developers, and not so good at teaching people straight out of school," says the project's bare-bones website, which currently features a video explaining the project. "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."
Welcome peek into the industry
This isn't something that would be welcome only at Valve, which also is well known for its Steam games service and sales. Historically the games industry has had very few formal paths to entry. Having a respectable company answer questions like, "What colleges are best for preparing me?" would be a great resource for upcoming developers.
Even more intriguing, the project should provide an interesting look into the culture at Valve, which has a bit of a Google-like legend in the industry due to its famed employee handbook and flat management structure, where employees float between projects at will and anyone can start something new.
Art and sound design are specifically mentioned as planned Pipeline topics but, in the launch video, the Pipeline team says, "the information we cover will largely be determined by the questions you submit." Valve's co-founder Gabe Newell appears in the video--hopefully a sign that the group has widespread support from the company and access to key interview subjects.
The best way to break into the games industry may still be to make a game, but it won't hurt to get perspective from some people on the inside.
We'll know more in the near future--the website says we can expect more information in "a month or so." For now, you can sign up for the email list if you want to be notified when the project goes live.