Uncovering the Faces Behind Half-Life 2

  • Sam Delton
  • 28 Feb 2023
Uncovering the Faces Behind Half-Life 2

Video games have the capability to evoke a wide variety of emotions, from awe and wonder to fear and sadness. While those feelings are most often attributed to the visuals and story-telling, some of it also comes from the characters used in the game. Half-Life 2 is one such game that has had its characters come to life through the use of 3D-scanned faces of real people. Recently, YouTuber Richter Overtime did some digging to find out where the people behind these faces are now.

Many of the faces in Half-Life 2 are credited in the “Thanks to the following for the use of their faces” section of the credits. Characters such as Alyx, the shotgun-toting priest Father Grigori, and even the background citizens of City 17 have developed followings in the Source Filmmaker (SFM) community due to the modding capabilities of games like Garry’s Mod. Among these faces is Jamil Higley, who was scanned to create Alyx and also performed her motion capture. 

More surprising is the discovery of the face behind Male_03, better known as Gordon Frohman, in the webcomic Concerned. This person was actually famed producer and DJ Larry Heard, and how he ended up in the game is still unknown. On the other hand, the face of corpse01.mdl, which was used to portray a dead body in Half-Life 2 and has become an iconic figure in the GMod community, was actually sourced from a photograph of a real corpse from a medical textbook. 

Only some of the faces have received such a wide audience, though. One of the models credited to “Michael Smith” has only recently been tracked down as a plane welder, and this only came to light after Richter Overtime recorded a video about it.

In conclusion, Half-Life 2’s characters have gone on to have their own lives beyond the game, with some even becoming memetic and recognizable figures among gamers. While the source of some of these faces still remains unknown, it is interesting to explore what these people have gone on to do, and now even the background citizens of City 17 can enjoy a renewed spotlight thanks to Richter Overtime’s research.