Who are the men behind Valve’s early marketing campaigns?

Daniel Appleford
Mysterious Valve men

Valve Corporation has developed some of the most beloved video games in the past decade. However, the company’s mascots have left multiple people questioning their identities.

There are two men who are associated with Valve that have sported the red valve on their faces. One promotional image, dubbed ‘Mr. Valve,’ featured a man with a goatee and a valve replacing his right eye. This image was tagged with the phrase ‘Open your eyes.’

In 2007, Mr. Valve’s was replaced with a new image featuring a man with his back turned, showcasing the valve on the back of his head for the ‘Open your mind’ concept.

The late nineties created two memorable montages: ‘Open your eye’ and ‘Open your mind.’ However, the latter was only integrated into the games in 2007, replacing the former. Despite several appearances on the website, it was eventually removed during a revamp in 2010.

Who are the Valve men?

There is currently no information about the men who were in Valve promotional images, leaving them shrouded in mystery. However, a post on Steam’s Reddit brought up an old conversation with one of the developers at Valve, who explained the origin behind the images.

“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,” said Ray Ueno. “We selected the bald guy from the batches of “off-the-street” Polaroids.”

Ueno revealed that the “Open your eyes” and “Open your mind” images used the same technique: finding everyday men on the street.

“It’s been very long since we did that work, so we don’t know who the models were,” said Ueno. “And the fact that they weren’t professional models would make it very difficult to find them—if not impossible for the bald guy.”

Since these campaigns were run in the late nineties and early 2000s, there is no telling if the men’s identities will ever be revealed to the public.

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