Image by Ethan Miller via Getty / Futurism

Gabe "Gaben" Newell, one of the cofounders of Valve — the fascinatingly hierarchy-less gaming company behind everything from the Steam gaming marketplace to the Half-Life franchise — has for years been quietly working on a brain-computer interface (BCI.)

And now, long before any hint of Half-Life 3 has dropped, it looks like his BCI venture is coming out of stealth.

As one eagle-eyed user on the site formerly known as Twitter pointed out earlier in the week, the website for Newell's Neuralink competitor, Starfish Neuroscience, has been updated to reflect its forthcoming wares.

"Gaben has clearly been quite busy," quipped the tweeter, extended reality worker and enthusiast Brad Lynch.

Following up on the spot, The Verge detailed Newell's stealth BCI endeavors, which date back all the way to 2019 when he incorporated the name. Over a year after said incorporation, he began talking up gaming use cases for brain chips, which as we've seen with Neuralink's first human patient are indeed extremely cool.

Newell, who is president and cofounder of Steam's parent company Valve, has also promoted the tech's other, far more sci-fi-esque use cases — including, as he told a New Zealand news station back in 2021, the ability to edit one's feelings.

"Where it gets weird is when who you are becomes editable through a BCI," Newell told New Zealand 1. "Our ability to create experiences in people's brains, that aren't mediated through their meat peripherals, will be better than is possible."

At the time, Gaben was working on developing a BCI headset, though it seems now that Starfish is, like its Elon Musk-founded competitor, interested in "minimally-invasive" brain implants. Beyond that, we still don't know much about what the technology will include — though the Starfish website does include a photo of what appears to be its bespoke brain chip, which is way smaller than Neuralink's large coin-sized implant.

Besides bringing his BCI endeavor out of stealth, the famously reclusive billionaire has also been embroiled in an antitrust lawsuit alleging that Steam is essentially running a monopoly on PC gaming and charging exorbitant fees in the process. In November 2023, his request to testify remotely for the suit over COVID-19 concerns were denied, and he was forced to appear before the Washington State court in person.

He also, as the yachting blog Luxury Launches reported in February, sold his 220-foot megayacht, which he'd converted into a mobile hospital during the beginning of the pandemic.

It's clearly been an interesting few months for Gaben — though given that lawyers are collecting sign-ons for the class-action lawsuit against Steam, he may need some help raising money for Starfish once the settlements start being paid out.

More on BCIs: The FDA Didn't Inspect Neuralink Before Granting Human Trial Approval

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