I’d like to note that I am not a gamer. I can’t seem to manage to be chronically addicted to video games, as do most of my male peers. Sure I have had periods where I played a few certain games, but this persistence in playing them was probably because I managed beat a level, and I was beginning to feel skilled. No matter why, those times are rare; I can’t get hooked to Diablo, NFS, Fifa, Counter Strike, Call of Duty, Warcraft, Starcraft, Minecraft. However, there is one game that I adore more than any other: Portal.
When it came out, I wanted to play it for it looked cool and minimalistic, and, of course, I could portal myself (almost) elsewhere on the map. The first few hours, I was engrossed by the games design, and the portals, and didn’t pay much or any attention the details of the environment or the GLaDOS updates after completion of the test chambers. I played to a certain stage, after which I didn’t play for a good two months. It failed to hook me at first, but when I got bored at times, I turned the game on, and something occurred to me: GLaDOS is a rather silly and evil character. I played a YouTube video featuring quotes from the game, and clarity ensued. I paid attention to what she was saying, and it was hilarious at time, and at other times she sounded quite diabolical, and I finally became a fan of the franchise.
Several years later Portal 2 came out, and it easily became my favorite game, not to mention it is the only game I have ever been able to play until the very end. The game was an exquisite piece of art, the same way the prequel was, and the puzzles and settings were quite engaging. The thing about the game that I liked the most though, was how sticky it was. The funny names of the devices (Thermal Discouragement Beam; Aerial Faith Plate; Material Emancipation Grill; Redemption Line; Unstationary Scaffold), the intricate, grimly humorous ways in which GLaDOS expressed herself, the childish voices of the sentry turrets trying to kill me, the references to potatoes and lemons (which I view as uncommon for things taking action in a state of the art research facilitiy, such as Aperture). It’s a huge breath of fresh air in this genre of games.
Three days ago, when the idea to transform my excitement and admiration for Portal in text came, I was reading its wiki page, and something caught my attention.
The clean, spartan look to the chambers was influenced by the film The Island.
Portal had its own influences, not to mention the notion of portal usage is not entirely original.
In the end, I interpret the whole experience as the game Portal teaching me two words, which for me bear the meaning of thousands of pages: story matters.