Close Playing: Portal

Kalani Pannasch-Heineman

Games and Culture

Close Playing: Portal

While beginning the video game portal, I found it pretty simple to pick up and learned how to maneuver my character fairly quickly. I started off waiting for a portal to appear on the screen so I would be able to walk through the hall leading to the test chamber. Once inside the following hall, a solid cube was dispensed from the corner of the room. I immediately moved over to the cube, picked it up and relocated it over to the red floor switch. In order to open the door onto the next room, I dropped the solid cube onto the floor switch and continued this process until unlocking the following test chambers.

Through overall analysis of the game concept, it was fun to grasp and I found that the better I became at the game, the quicker I wanted to be able to reach the next test chambers. However, as I found myself getting further into the test chambers, the maneuvers of getting Chell to the portals would develop as well. At first I somewhat struggled with the portal gun in order to create the two portal ends, but grew better as the game continued. So the idea that I was challenging myself verse myself, while also controlling protagonist, Chell from a first person point of view, as she is forced to navigate through a series of rooms with the use of the Aperture Science Handheld Portal Device, was both intense and rewarding.

Portal’s game incentive was another factor I chose to look into after completing the game. The objective to gain energy through portals, by requiring creative use of portals to maneuver through the test chambers was the overall theme of the game. A theme of human nature that this game specifically shares is definitely the desire for more power and even vitality. Chell is constantly at risk of being killed by various other hazards in the test chambers, such as turret guns, bouncing balls of energy, and toxic liquid. She can also be killed by objects falling through portals, and by a series of crushers that appear in certain levels, so avoiding damage at all costs is crucial throughout the game. Contrasting to other video games, Portal does not feature any health indicator throughout the game, leaving a significant chance of risk when jumping from platforms or portals. However, Chell will die if she is dealt a certain amount of damage in a short time period, yet continues returns to full health fairly quickly.

In conclusion of my game analysis, the combination of a straightforward and simple game concept, that provided players with an incentive of wanting to get Chell through as many test chambers as possible (wanting more outlook) made it an easy hook for players to try various attempts at creating solutions for completing each puzzle. By building on the idea that players are rewarded with a sense of achievement through each successful chamber, it also increases the players’ creativeness in how they choose to reach advance chambers. This concept of increased creativity being a parallel to higher achievements goes for real life situations as well. For example, tech companies such as Apple are constantly in competition with other companies, in regard to who will reveal the next hot gadget. (ex: the Apple Watch)

Game Example: (Portal: No Escape)

Images on how Portal encourages creativity & calculating risk

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