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The Curious Incident of the Disappearing Gabe Newell AMA

The gaming celebrity didn't show up for his Reddit AMA today. Was he hacked?

When it learned that Gabe Newell would be paying it a visit today, Reddit freaked out. When he never showed up, it freaked out again.

If you’re not a gamer, you’re probably wondering, “Who the hell is Gabe Newell?” But for those in the online gaming community, and especially on Reddit, the Valve co-founder and managing director is a full-blown celebrity.

Newell, or “Gaben” as he is often called, helms the company that both runs the popular PC gaming store Steam and has cranked out a string of hit game series on both console and PC, including Counter-Strike, Half-Life, Team Fortress, Left 4 Dead, Portal and, most recently, Dota 2.

According to this post made from Newell’s previously used Reddit account, he was supposed to show up for an “Ask Me Anything” interview, or AMA, at 1 pm PT. This sent his admirers into a tizzy because today is March 3, or 3/3, and for the past seven years Valve fans have been clamoring for a third entry in the Half-Life franchise.

Reddit moderators seemed to be at fault for the botched AMA, at first; Newell’s initial post had no details other than his name, the 1 pm PT time and this picture, showing him in front of a computer monitor with Reddit on the screen. However, the post was made too far in advance, breaking the AMA community’s rules, and moderators locked the comment thread so that the only visible comment was Newell’s link to his picture. All the other comments showed up as “[deleted].”

Still, though: The date. The cryptic AMA announcement. It had to be intentional, right? Right?!

Maybe not. On top of the no-show AMA, which has left moderators perplexed and apologetic, I’m not yet convinced that Newell himself made the post in the first place.

Reddit asks AMA participants to prove their identities with pictures of themselves, as Newell supposedly did. These pictures often work in a reference to Reddit or the words “Hi Reddit” in some way to show that they’ve been taken just for the AMA.

But that picture of Newell sitting in front of Reddit posted today? It’s more than a month old, as evidenced by the timestamp on the Reddit post behind him: “22 hours ago,” even though the post was made on Jan. 14. It’s possible that Newell’s Reddit account was compromised and that some clever troll seized on the 3/3 date, knowing that everyone would overreact.

A Valve representative did not respond to an emailed request for comment. To be continued …

Update: A Redditor claims to have cold-emailed Newell and received the following one-line response: “Tomorrow, the 4th, 2:00 PST.”

Update 2: Looks like that email was indeed real. The AMA just started here.

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