Left 4 Dead – Virtual Team building with Valve Software

“Help Help Smoker!!”
“I’m pinned, someone get me up.”
“Hang on a second and let me heal you up.”

The date was Friday the 13th and I would like to say it was a dark and stormy night, but the truth was it was a bright and sunny afternoon. We actually had to close the blinds in our South Florida offices because the sun was producing too much glare on our monitors.

The event was a huge success and saw our team working together for a common goal. So much so that exactly one week after we all got together again, off-hours, to complete the next level together.

For years we have thrown around the idea of having an office day of Paintball, however with the current setup that we have in place, some of our key employees work remotely and a round of paintball is just not practical. Since our team enjoys video gaming on their off hours, everyone was aware of Valve Software’s “Left 4 Dead” (L4D). L4D is a cooperative team based game set in future world taken over by the zombie apocalypse (think Dawn of the Dead or 28 Days Later). The game has been met with rave reviews and truly captures the movie experience and all of the cliches of the classic zombie survival horror flicks.

The cooperative element was key to our selection of L4D. It is not playable on your own as a single “Lone Wolf”. You are dependent on your team mates to survive and make it to the next “safe room” and eventual rescue. Without realizing our team came together to help each other out. Supplying health packs to each other (vs. hoarding them all for ourselves as in other games) became common place. Risking your own health to spend a few seconds in a vulnerable position to revive a fallen teammate had to be done.

The video below shows a brief glimpse of a tense moment where Steven jumps down to help some fallen teammates and get incapacitated himself. Its up to Justin, the last man standing, to begin the revival process. Justin then gets pinned by a Tank and has to fight him off himself before going to the roof with everyone else to rendezvous with the rescue helicopter.


We worked a half day and started our event in the early afternoon. 30 minutes of setup and we were up and running in our first game. Voice chat with our teammate in NC was up and running in a few minutes with some minor configurations.

Total cost: $150 for 4 copies of the software and a half day of lost productivity

Total benefit: A priceless experience shared by our office (one that we have already re-created twice outside of our office setting) & a refreshed staff ready for the next week.


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Published On: Mar 25, 2009