Will Do
Thoughts on technology, the world, and life.


I finished the game Portal a little while ago. I think it’s one of the best games I’ve played in a long time. The game play is very original and exciting and offers many opportunities to stump us with environmental puzzles and brain teasers. But on top of that, the writers have infused it with a sense of humor I’ve never seen before in a game that totally works. At times it’s subtle and at other times it’s hilarious. The credits are amazing and shouldn’t be missed. But what really surprised me was how well the game works, despite how simple it appears to be on the surface. There’s a moment in the game where you’ve completed the goal put before you at the start and you think everything is over. But the game keeps going. Then a character says a simple, innocent line along the lines of “Put down everything, lay down, and wait to be taken away.” My motivation and attitude completely shifted and suddenly I wanted to do exactly what the game creators wanted me to want to do, without telling me what I should be feeling or what I’m doing next. It’s brilliant, and I’ve never experienced anything like it in a game before. Valve has perfected the art of melding game play, story telling, and perspective in a way I haven’t really seen in any other games, in my humble opinion. They constrain your point of view to the first person and never leave it for cut scenes or flash backs or other points of view. You experience the game through the continuous consciousness of the person you play. Your character never speaks; you have no way to speak or communicate with other characters. The effect is to make you feel like you are there, that you are part of the story and are making important choices that affect the outcome of the game. In short, it amplifies your emotional attachment and immersion, which add to the enjoyment of the experience. In addition, it helps to focus the game experience because anything boring or of low quality is immediately apparent because the player must engage with those things in a way that cannot be completely controlled by the creators. It also forces the creators to develop plot and characters in an interactive, engaging way because it has to happen live in front of the player. You might think a strict first-person perspective might make telling back story contrived or impossible, but Valve managed it brilliantly in Half-Life 2. Portal’s game play is an extension of all of these things and works brilliantly because of it.I highly recommend gamers try this game out.