A Kids’ Perspective on Portal


Portal 2 (image: thinkwithportals.com)Portal 2 (image: thinkwithportals.com)

Portal 2 (image: thinkwithportals.com)

My kids have become fascinated with Portal. They oversaw me watching some of the videos the other day while I was putting together a news post on Portal 2. Something about the combination of Stephen Merchant’s playground voice and the disembodied robot really caught their attention.

We spent the next half hour watching and re-watching the different footage currently available on Valve’s much anticipated sequel. It was fascinating to see how they responded to it – even without really knowing about the mechanics of the game there was enough to intrigue them.

It made me realize that I often think about Portal as “the game with the clever teleport gun”, when in actual fact it is the characterization as much as anything else that made it a success – and of course GLaDOS.

Although I had almost finished my article about the game when the kids came in, this experience with them meant that I rewrote my Portal 2 news entirely:

Portal 2 is a long lost friend, and she knows it. The sequel is a re-embrace of the original – as much as new guns, environments and play style – it’s a return to an old friend that is real draw here.

“It’s been a long time” GLaDOS familiar Dalek tone immediately gets us in the mood “How have you been?” Portal 2 shows how well Valve understand their game – and that this has never just been about teleporting mind-bending puzzles – it’s as much about characters, and one character in particular. “I think we can put our differences behind us, for science,” drones GLaDOS “you monster…” her subtle reminder of our abuse in the first game.

Then I got to the end of the article, where I usually put my own name, and had an urge to credit my kids with the perspective. While I couldn’t do that on my blog, I thought it would be good to credit them here as the source of my creative output that day.

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