Valve has been doing some big things in recent months, launching The International 10 Battle Pass and shipping a number of large updates to Counter-Strike: Global Offensive. But company co-founder Gabe Newell hasn’t been around for any of it.
His absence isn’t actually by choice. The famous face of Valve has been stuck in New Zealand since March.
After shipping Half-Life: Alyx, Newell and others took what was meant to be a 10-day vacation in New Zealand. When restrictions on travel both into and out of the country were implemented, he was left stranded on the other side of the Pacific Ocean with very few options available for returning home.
Newell has been enjoying his time in New Zealand, though. He’s been enjoying it so much that he’s planning on hosting a massive music and gaming event as a way of thanking the country for having him.
“These events are a thank you to the people of New Zealand for being so kind and welcoming, and also an acknowledgment of the hard work that ‘the team of 5 million’ have gone through to get us to where we are now,” Newell stated in an interview with TVNZ1’s Breakfast, a morning news program in New Zealand.
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Newell was apparently inspired by the sense of togetherness and willingness exhibited by New Zealand residents in navigating ongoing world issues.
As both a celebration of success and a thank you to the country, Newell is helping to organize We Love Aotearoa. We Love Aotearoa is a free concert and event Newell is setting up alongside Spanish racer Alex Riberas. It will feature local bands playing as well as a variety of outdoor activities.
It’s safe to say Newell has been enjoying his time in the country, but he remains concerned for his coworkers at Valve as they navigate ongoing health challenges.
“The hardest part by far is being worried about friends and family who aren’t in New Zealand. When I talk to people back in Seattle, it’s a very strange time. It’s very challenging. They’re very isolated,” Newell said.
Anyone worrying about the state of Valve shouldn’t fret, though. Newell stated that he’s been working normally while in New Zealand, albeit without walking around the Valve offices. Whether this work includes the legendary Dota 2 marathons Newell is purported to binge through remains unconfirmed.