Gabe Newell Biography - Top 25 Interesting Facts

The Man, The Myth, The Gabe

Gabe Newell is one of the biggest names in gaming. As both a pioneering game developer with Valve and CEO of Steam, Mr Newell is as interesting - and at times elusive - as Half Life 3. Below are the 25 most interesting facts about the man himself.


25. Estimated Net Worth of $5 billion

Yep, you read that right. Over 30 successful years in the gaming industry has landed Gabe Newell with a net worth of $5 billion. That’s enough to buy 5 islands in the Bahamas, or any number of major league baseball teams.


24. Lives in New Zealand

During the 2020 Pandemic, Gabe Newell spent his time with a group of friends in New Zealand. Although the Valve offices remain based in Washington, Gabe has applied for permanent residency in Middle Earth.


23.  Harvard Dropout

A member of an illustrious list including Bill Gates, David Foster Wallace and Mark Zuckerberg, Gabe dropped out of Harvard after three years to work for Microsoft. Not a bad call in retrospect.


22. Super Mario 64 Buff

Mario 64 was the first game that convinced Gabe Newell that video games were an art form. Without his introduction to the 3D Italian plumber, it’s possible Valve would never have seen the light of day. 


21. The End Boss of Half Life Has a Creepy Origin Story

The final boss of the original Half Life game is the stuff of nightmares; the Nihilanth is a giant, malformed fetus (think Eraserhead). 

This Lynchian monstrosity was actually inspired by the birth of Gabe’s son. In an interview with Valve, Grey Newell stated childbirth was in fact the greatest horror of his parents prior to his birth. Ouch!


20. He Nearly Went Blind

Before transplants in 2006 and 2007, Gabe suffered from Fuch’s dystrophy, a disease which causes the cornea to blur and thicken. 


19. My Little Pony Fan

Again, you read that right. Gabe Newell is a big fan of the animated kids tv series. The less said the better.


18. Half Life Influences

Newell has listed multiple influences for the now infamous Half Life series. The most famous are the following: Doom, Quake and Stephen King’s The Mist.


17. Narbacular Drop influenced Portal

Although the Valve team is often praised for the original teleportation feature in Portal, the gameplay mechanic actually originated in Narbacular Drop, a 2005 online game. Newell was so impressed by the game that he hired the team who worked on it. 


16. Worked on Doom

One of his favourite games, Gabe got to work on a port of Doom for Windows 95, during his 13 year stint at Microsoft.


15. Gabe Got One Over on a Hacker

In 2003, the source code for Half Life was stolen by a German hacker. This was potentially catastrophic, as the game software Gabe and his team had created was revolutionary. 

Think of someone taking credit for your work on a school project, times about a million.

Pragmatic as ever, Gabe offered the hacker a job, seemingly with no hard feelings. However, when the hacker handed over his details for the job contract, Gabe let the authorities look over them too. So close, yet so far.


14. He Isn’t Optimistic About the Gaming Industry

Newell has a rather pessimistic view that only 10% of games released actually go on to make profits. Not exactly inspiring.


13. Steam for Schools

Newell developed an educational programme using Steam. It is used in schools to teach science and maths in a way that is more accessible and fun to the youth of today. It has a Portal backdrop and strives to make education more fun more kids.


12. Holds Portal 2 in High Esteem

Valve are notorious for their genre defining first person shooters. It comes as somewhat of a surprise that Newell’s favourite amongst them is Portal 2.


11. Knife Collection

For some reason, Gabe Newell owns over 600 different types of knife.


10. Steak Preference

Some of those knives are used to cut his steak, which he takes medium rare.


9. Busy Day

Gabe married his wife, Lisa Mennet Newell, on the same day he founded Valve. If you ever feel like there aren’t enough hours in a day, just remember that.


8. Nickname

Newell is playfully referred to as Gaben in the gaming community. This stems from his Steam login email: [email protected].


7. Trying to Accept his Fame

Newell has stated that he is making efforts to accept his role as a public figure. Although he’s not much of a hugger, he makes exceptions for fans. 


6. Multitasking

We’ve already seen that Gabe is one hell of a multitasker. More evidence of this is that he managed to start development on Steam during the production of Half Life 2. No wonder we’re still waiting on Half Life 3; he’s gotta be burnt out!


5. Microsoft > Harvard

Newell claims that he learnt more in 3 months at Harvard than he did during his 3 years at Harvard. Damning.


4. Not a Fan of Game Consoles

Gabe is not glowing with his comments about game consoles, to put it lightly. He especially had a problem with the PS3, referring to it as a waste of everybody’s time. Clearly he thought that console gaming was incredibly restrictive and thus a threat to PC gaming.


3. 2 Children

Newell has two children, only one of which inspired the horror show final boss of the original Half Life


2. Listed in Top 100 Richest People in the USA

In 2017, Forbes listed Newell in a list of the top 100 richest people in the whole of the United States. He is the only person on the list who made their money primarily through the game industry. Not bad for a college drop out.

1. Dream Boss

Newell and then partner Harrington set out to create a space of true creative freedom when they found Valve. There are no strict departments, chiefs or managers. Workers decide what works for them. Gabe seems like a great guy and the relaxing work environment he has constructed is indicative of that.



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As a Philosophy graduate and published creative writer, I write about gaming from a fresh and original perspective. I like browsing bookstores and reading when I can get away from Hyrule.
Gamer Since: 2002
Favorite Genre: Sports
Currently Playing: Zelda: Breath of the Wild
Top 3 Favorite Games:Bioshock Infinite, Crysis 2-Maximum Edition, Grand Theft Auto V

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