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Intial Thoughts on Portal

Having never played Portal, I feel like this is a very good opportunity for me to try and analyze something at every stage possible, the pre-experience, the experience, and the afterthought. These are my thoughts on the game as a cultural phenomena, one of which I am not involved physically or intellectually, and one of which I have devoted no actual time too. I am trying to weigh the “heaviness” of the Portal mythos, versus the silliness of the subject in Academia. Honestly, I don’t know if the silliness I feel is implied is actually there, or if it is “stubborn old-fashioned” syndrome showing itself in the roots of my generation.

My initial thought, after having listened to some of the things discussed today in the meeting, is that this game is laden with referencing and is an example of “high art by design” rather than by designation as such through time. I wonder if, in say 300 years, people will still look back on our favorite “artistic” games such as Portal, Shadow of the Colossus, or Ico as the high art of the era, or will they appreciate something completely out of left field, something that our culture and my mind within it cannot fathom as being considered “art?” Down the line, will they consider video games as art in the first place?

The referencing is something that I alluded too, and it is an important piece of the Portal puzzle for me. The game itself has become a reference, but aside from that, just from what I’ve gathered through time, and the short time hearing students speak in the meeting tells me that the game is bursting with cultural, literary, and other such references. These references present both a problem and a solution. When you, as a video gamer, see something in a game that triggers your emotional response as a fan of literature or television, etc, it somehow gives the game you are playing the same clout and pull as the piece of work it references. I’ll clearly have to do a lot more hands-on learning of what the references are, mean, and how they tie together before making a sound decision regarding this.

My final thought is the social implications of cultural phenomena in full bloom, rather than in blossom. That is, with Portal having been so successful and considering the trick of referencing used, there is a large conversation going worldwide discussing the game, what it is about, and what every single little part of it implies. My question is, what makes a person A. seek the community of Portal or any other medium fans and immerse themselves in the phenomena, or B. shun the community and the game for the overwhelming amount of thought and loyalty being applied by it’s rabid fan base.


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