Dota 2 Spat With Valve Employee Prompts New Policy on Manual Bans

by Jason Venter

If you are on the hefty side, it can be fun to occasionally throw your weight around. When your heft is generated by your place of employment, that’s not always the responsible approach. Just ask minijuanjohndoe and Sean Vanaman, two players who engaged in some discussion during a heated Dota 2 match that ultimately led to a change in how Valve approaches matchmaking bans.

Sean Vanaman co-directed the critically acclaimed first-person adventure game, Firewatch. It was the debut game at Campo Santo, a studio he founded with Jake Rodkin, Nels Anderson, and Olly Moss. The game’s success led Valve to purchase the company in 2018. As a result of that acquisition, Vanaman became a Valve employee. Sometimes he hops online and plays games the company publishes, like Dota 2.

Recently, Vanaman was playing a round of Dota 2, a popular MOBA released in 2013 that remains quite active. He participated in a heated exchange with minijuanjohndoe, and things got tense. “Do you know who you’re talking to?” Vanaman finally asked. “Check my profile, I’m a Steam employee.”

The result of that exchange, as reported by Polygon, is that minijuanjohndoe got sent to “low-priority” mode as punishment. He didn’t take kindly to that development, and posted about it on Reddit. Initially, the community expressed understandable skepticism. However, Vanaman responded with an apology and explanation that made it all official.

“The team looked into this case,” Vanaman wrote, “and concluded the user clearly did not deserve the ban.” He notes that an informal policy was in place to prevent such behavior on the part of Valve employees, and adds: “It won’t remain informal going forward — manual bans like this won’t be allowed anymore altogether.”

This development affects manual bans only. Play Dota 2 in a way that spoils the fun for others and you can still find yourself facing bans after a formal review. Such an outcome will no longer be the likely punishment for accidentally picking on a player with connections, however. Whew!

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