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Portal is a 2007 puzzle/action game developed by Valve Corporation.

Portal Logo



The game is first person shooter were the player fires "portals" that allow the player to navigate the levels. These "portals" connect to one another and allow the player to instantaneously travel between the two portals. The in game AI, GLaDOS, has you training to use the portals, but when she goes "crazy," she tries to kill you , you must think with portals and use them to escape the facility. You cannot forget that the cake is a lie.

Connections to Class Discussions(Spring 2011)

A Hack In Itself

When playing through "Portal",you feel as though the portals you are making are "hacking" the world itself. The portals change how reality functions in the world, so you could say that you are hacking reality.

The Winter Market

The Infinite Loop

This game embodies the main theme of using technology for your own uses very strongly. Like how Rubin takes pieces of technology and reuses them for his own purposes, in the game you must use the portals in any way you want to escape the facility before you are destroyed. An example of this is creating the infinite loop.


In the game, the AI GLaDOS acts in a way similar to that of Wintermute in the novel. She has knowledge of the true plan of these portals while the player has virtually no idea what is happening throughout most of the game. She has the ability, like Wintermute to control the facility you are in in order to try and destroy you, like Wintermute killed the police officers.


While obviously not taking place in space, Portal does have some similarities to Schismatrix. In Schismatrix, the Mechanists modified their modified their bodies with with mechanical and cybernetic prosthesis. If you looked closely, you can see the Chell is outfitted with some sort of aid or prosthesis that assists her legs. It is reasonable to guess that this prosthesis makes Chell faster, jump higher, and make her more resistant to fall damage.

Alother similarity is the theme of modifying the environment. All environments seen in Schismatrix are constructed and controlled due to the fact that the characters live in space. They have the ability to manipulate this environment, such as adding inflatable rooms to the outside of already existing structures. Similarly, Portal's game environment is manipulated by the player to take advantage of the surroundings and complete the puzzles.


Machine Labor vs. Human Labor

The protagonist of Portal, Chell, progresses through the game relying on, for the most part, machine labor (although elements of human labor can also be seen). Chell navigates through her environment with the use of an Aperture Science Handheld Portal Device, a mechanical gun with the ability to create portals. She is guided by a computer artificial intelligence named GLaDOS (Genetic Lifeform and Disk Operating System).

Mental Labor vs. Physical Labor

Like all video games, Portal can be seen as primarily an exercise in mental labor. Playing Portal requires very little physical energy, as the player only needs to use his hands to interact with the game, but it does require a substantial amount of mental labor in order to solve the various puzzles in the game. This is a large part of what makes video games more fun for people because they allow people to do things which in real life they can not accomplish. However, now with the Wii, Kinect, and Move, videogames are becoming more physically interactive which will cause a dramatic shift in the type of gamers playing those games.


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