Valve logo origins: who is "the bald guy?"

Valve logo - the bald guy

A post on Reddit has turned up some interesting information about the origin of Valve's iconic logo images. The most well known picture features a red valve attached to the back of a bald man's head. The other image shows a man facing the camera, this time with the valve coming out of his eye. A curious Valve fan emailed Gabe Newell asking about the thinking behind the images, and got an email back from Valve staffer, Ray Ueno, who worked on developing the original concept for the pictures.

The two images were based on an "Open your mind. Open your eyes" concept developed when Valve was founded in 1995. Valve approached a series of casting agencies to try and find suitable models for the images. Ueno describes what happened.

"Back then, the casting agencies we were using to find models only had "supermodel"-type talent. We kept requesting "heavy-set", "normal" models, and they kept sending us "beautiful", "thin", "perfect" headshots to review.

"So, we finally asked them to just go out on the street and pull "everyday Joes" who were more "interesting", "common", and for the bald guy, "kinda big, heavy-set, and bald".

"They went out to the streets of Seattle's Broadway district, took tons of polaroids of the types of folks we were looking for, and brought the shots back to us. We selected the bald guy from the batches of "off-the-street" polaroids—he was literally pulled out of a coffee shop or book store!

"A few days later, we brought him into studio and shot the image you now see at the beginning of our games. We also shot a 2nd image of a different guy with a valve in his eye using the same process"

Tom Senior

Part of the UK team, Tom was with PC Gamer at the very beginning of the website's launch—first as a news writer, and then as online editor until his departure in 2020. His specialties are strategy games, action RPGs, hack ‘n slash games, digital card games… basically anything that he can fit on a hard drive. His final boss form is Deckard Cain.