The backstory: Joe W-A of Brisbane is a serious modder, working on this custom Left 4 Dead campaign, "Shotgun Sunrise." He's also pals with Newell. So Joe jokingly feigned disappointment that Newell didn't fly him up to Valve HQ to preview Left 4 Dead 2, which Valve did earlier for the leaders of the L4D2 boycott movement. Newell's joking reply was a "boycott" of Joe's campaign, and then the demand that Joe fly him and producer Erik Johnson to Australia if he wanted them to preview it.
Somehow, this premise netted more than $US3000 in donations through Saturday, when Joe announced the drive had breached its target. While he's offered to return donations should any of this be called off, the sum now is so serious that "I'm assuming you don't want refunds, and the money will go to either Gabe and Erik's flights or [the charity]Child's Play."
When he got about $US500 in on the first day, Joe emailed Newell to ask for a price quote. Newell replied with a $US1211 figure on Qantas, connecting through L.A. "So Erik and I aren't too much in danger," Newell said. Not so fast, my friend.
So the ball is in Valve's court here. Whatever happens, we've all had a great laugh - some of Valve's employees even donated to the cause. And whether it ends with pictures of Gabe Newell and Erik Johnson in a 19-year-old modder's home across the Pacific Ocean, playing Left 4 Dead, or a handsome donation to a worthy cause, we can stamp "win" all over this.
Just Waiting on Gabe and Erik's Responses [Fly Gabe Newell]