Valve has announced that Gabe Newell and Erik Johnson will be flying to Australia next week to meet a modder who raised $3000 for their airfares.
The back-story to this is rather amusing: earlier this year Valve flew the leaders of the Left 4 Dead 2 boycott campaign out to Seattle to try and win them over. Joe W-A, a Left 4 Dead modder who had been in touch with Newell via email for a while, asked why he'd never been flown over to the studio.
Newell replied (Valve stresses "playfully") that he was "boycotting" Joe's mod. Joe responded by setting up the Fly Gabe Newell campaign to raise enough money to bring Newell to him. Within 48 hours he'd raised the $3000 needed to do so.
So Newell and fellow Valve employee Erik Johnson are off to Australia to meet Joe and check out his mod. The press release makes much of the fact that it's all down to the power of the gaming community. What it doesn't say, which Rock, Paper, Shotgun reports, is the rumour that Valve is paying its own way so that the $3000 can go to charity.
"The power of the gaming community and their ability to rally around a cause - be it serious or fun in nature - is amazing," Newell said in a statement.
"In 2003, the community helped the FBI and European law enforcement officials find the people who stole the Half-Life 2 source code. This year, the community is putting me on a plane to the other side of the world to meet Joe W-A and see his mod. It's going to be a fun trip."
Reports on the trip will be posted on the Left 4 Dead website's blog by Johnson next week.