Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Mislead (You too)

Torrey Boyle and I, Kevin Conley have decided to investigate Valve's Portal 2 from a narrative perspective. During one of the levels a turret proclaims "I'm different"; this line seemed to strike a chord within our hearts so we gave it extra attention. Through this line we can relate it to the idea of determinism. Basically what determinism, or more specifically Hard-determinism explains is that humans are no different than robots. Why that sounds like a bunch of malarkey. Not really. Let me ask first, did you make the decision to be born, do you understand the machine that is the universe. No because no one does, it's unfathomable, although the pondering is justified. Ever since our births, certain events have been spiraling in motion in grand and very unnoticeable ways. From our parents influences on our pre-conscious state to the patch of grass that catches your eye for a fleeting moment. All things influence us more than we would like to believe, and there is an order to the lives of humans just as there is for robots through their programming.The illusion of free-will is simply an idea in the most idealistic fashion. Now how this seemingly close-minded, pessimistic and misunderstood view applies to Portal 2.
As you progress through Portal 2, we meet the character Cave Johnson through pre-recorded voice-overs in chapters 6 and 7, The Itch and The Fall. He initially comes off as a zany, extremely dedicated scientist, but as we progress through the levels, we slowly realize (as he does as well) that this man's scientific pursuits are turning him mad. Most of us have a passion, something we love doing and will go to great lengths to be the best at, even breaking rules and moral values instilled to us by society. The overall goal is perfection in our passion. Cave is a man no different, science is his passion and nothing will stop him in his path of perfecting it: Cave turns his employees into mantis-men, constantly risks human lives by testing them in his puzzles and even applies his favorite employee, Caroline's cognitive make-up to his master creation, Glados. In the narrative, Glados symbolizes the strand of perfection Cave dedicated so much time to achieve: genius wits that can outsmart any meager human. Why he was attempting this kind of perfection is unexplained, but nonetheless, we can assume he was a product of his surroundings, as we all are. Cave was influenced by the Universe, the ideas he extrapolated from his experiences predicted his outcome as scientist and his explorations into science and the creation of Glados. This is the point where readers think I applied a philosophical idea to dress up a pretty, cute and pretentious ( I agree) argument. Give me another paragraph.
Back to the aforementioned turret proclamation: "I'm different." My first conclusion when hearing the cutesy robot mutter this was that Valve was relating our existences to robots. I mean, why would they, out of all the things to write, pick this choice of dialogue? Maybe so us gamers could extrapolate their intentions with the narrative; what was aforementioned: humans and robots are essentially the same. Another example from the story that gives further proof to this assumption is the wall paneling at the beginning of Chapter 3 slamming itself violently against the wall, as if it had just discovered masochism. Since part of Glados is Caroline's cognitive make-up and she controls Aperture Sciences , both instances of robots acting out of their usual nature probably came from this part of her programming. However, deeper thought could present a flaw in my theory. If only part of her is Caroline, then the rest would function in complete control, without this part. But in order for a robot to function in accordance to humans their interface has to be incorporated with human qualities; the reason why Aperture tests humans. Humans aren't in control, the programming they write for robots (eventually androids) they are in control of and the world goes on. We still cannot imagine the future, so existence can still lead us on, with the whim that a cake will be achieved (allusion points gained) in the unforeseeable. Overall an allegorical offering to the android slave dominance earth will take part in circa 2220. That movie Blade Runner, too. Also, I can see the future, circa 2011.

1 comment:

  1. Oh and our sources.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=V40gyvljUK8

    http://www.toledoblade.com/Culture/2011/05/12/GLaDOS-is-back-for-revenge-in-Portal-2.html

    http://pc.gamespy.com/pc/portal/854485p1.html
    ^ discusses a narrative perspective from portal one but the dialogue can relate to portal 2.

    http://www.thedailybeast.com/blogs-and-stories/2011-04-26/portal-2-the-best-video-game-ever/#

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