Portal and I didn’t get off on the right foot. My first encounter with it happened in the middle of my brother’s playthrough, where he was already halfway in. I picked up the controller just to try it out. Sure, the concept of creating and traveling through portals was immediately alluring, but I couldn’t have solved that level if my life depended on it. Based on that, I figured that I would always be too dumb for it.
Had I not watched my girlfriend play it from the beginning, I probably wouldn’t have given it a second chance. What a shame that would have been had I gone any longer without it.
The original Portal has already cemented itself as one of the landmark games of this generation. Though it was originally positioned as an add-on to the Half-Life 2 Orange Box that could be beaten in about 3 hours, Portal has taken on a life of its own thanks to its revolutionary game design that does something truly new. Critics loved it, fans bought into it in droves and elements of the game, such as in-game lines and ‘the song’ have worked their way into popular gaming culture. While it’s sequel may not have the cultural cache as its predecessor, the game is still one of the best of the year and it sold extremely well.
Portal is without a doubt, a must-play game if there ever was one this generation. With that said, I’ve been ducking this game for years. I tried it in passing once, but I made the mistake of trying it out on my brother’s file, when he was over half way through the game. Needless to say, I was immediately overwhelmed and thought I was too stupid for Portal. Only recently did I put my initial impressions aside and try the game from scratch.
Video game complexity has come a long way from the days of Pong. Graphics have improved, AI has gotten smarter, control methods have become increasingly complex and the games themselves are more complicated than anything you can find on an Atari 2600.
Due to the way the medium has evolved, there are games and game genres that I cannot wrap my head around, regardless of how hard I try. The following is a list of games and game genres that make me feel dumb after playing them because I can’t come to grips with how to play them. Knowing that there are thousands of other people that are playing the same games just fine only amplifies the stupidity I feel when I fail miserably. Check out my list and tell me if any of these games make you feel dumb, too.
Students heading to school at Indiana’s Wabash College this semester will find something very cool added to their curriculum: Portal. The critically acclaimed game about mind-bending puzzles and a deranged AI that is trying to torture you to death will sit along side Hamlet and Aristotle as required material for students looking to earn a degree.
Education purists may scoff at the thought of a video game being used as a teaching tool, especially a video game that isn’t meant to be educational. But having read the context in which the game is used, I think this is an amazing idea.