Valve employee apologizes for punishing Dota 2 teammate with ban

(Image credit: Valve)

After a recent Dota 2 match, player Minijuanjohndoe was sent to the game's low priority queue, a punishment system for players who "abandon games or receive excessive reports." Like many others who've been hit with an in-game penalty for their behavior, Minijuanjohndoe took to Reddit to argue that they were the victim of an injustice. In this case, however, Valve agreed.

According to Minijuanjohndoe, their only crime was telling the team to go to mid tower. A teammate, Vanaman, thought it was a bad idea, but this was no ordinary player. He was Valve employee Sean Vanaman, and according to Minijuanjohndoe, that exchange alone led to Vanaman punishing him with Valve's backend tools.

After Minijuanjohndoe told his story, Vanaman apologized for the ban and the punishment was reversed. Valve also set an internal policy preventing employees from manually banning players while playing.

"The team looked into this case, and concluded the user clearly did not deserve the ban," wrote Vanaman. "Even if the user did deserve a ban however, we all think it's clear that manually banning users is not a good idea because of how hard it is to be objective in Dota games that you are in. My mistake in this case being a sterling example. As employees, we should have no special privilege when playing Dota.

"That has been the team's informal policy in the past, but it has clearly failed in this case. It won't remain informal going forward—manual bans like this won't be allowed anymore altogether. And sincere apologies to user u/minijuanjohndoe."

We don't know exactly what happened in the match in question, but Vanaman's statement that it's "hard to be objective" seems to be an admission that he lost his cool. In their post, Minijuanjohndoe provided proof of their previously impeccable behaviour score.

Vanaman has been a Valve employee since 2018, when the company acquired Firewatch developer Campo Santo, which he co-founded. He was also lead writer of the first season of Telltale's The Walking Dead game.  

Before the Valve acquisition, Vanaman was in the news in 2017 for protesting PewDiePie's behavior (casually using the n-word in a PUBG stream) by issuing DMCA notices against the YouTuber's Firewatch videos, which resulted in the game being review bombed on Steam by PewDiePie's supporters. 

Rich Stanton

Rich is a games journalist with 15 years' experience, beginning his career on Edge magazine before working for a wide range of outlets, including Ars Technica, Eurogamer, GamesRadar+, Gamespot, the Guardian, IGN, the New Statesman, Polygon, and Vice. He was the editor of Kotaku UK, the UK arm of Kotaku, for three years before joining PC Gamer. He is the author of a Brief History of Video Games, a full history of the medium, which the Midwest Book Review described as "[a] must-read for serious minded game historians and curious video game connoisseurs alike."