Portal Player Immersion


Portal 2 has the most immersive single player experience, for a first person puzzle platform game, that challenges the player with special challenges, because of its unique character development and design.

The biggest downfall of many other video games is the lack of three-dimensional characters. Portal adds character depth and character ark as well as plot twists that change characters’ behavior. In the beginning of the game she appears as a simple voice but as Chell continues to try to escape GLaDOS becomes more violent and threatening, but maintains her calm voice throughout most of her dialogue. They add character depth and background by literally diving into the abyss of Aperture Science. This happens in the second game Portal 2 and they dive into to Aperture science’s past and hints at the creation of GLaDOS and the other cores. The game suggests that Caroline aka GLaDOS was forced into the robot body as a part of a crazy science experiment to save her.  Her design is supposed to resemble a bound person.5647132238_9e38c5d3d1_o

The first and simple implantation of the immersion of the player is the lack of character lines by the main character. This lets the mind wonder and makes the character fit the player as the character naturally responds with his/her own voice. The response may not be spoken, but it is hard not to laugh at the remarks or grow in frustration as the game develops. The lack of lines allows the main character to fit whoever is playing her. When other games give the character scripted lines, the game feel more like you are watching a movie from their perspective because the decisions seem to be made for you. Instead, her character is built as she fearlessly conquers each of the given tasks and attempts to overthrow GlaDOS and through hints inside the game. For instance, one of the rooms is an old science fair from many years ago that all pertain to potato batteries.  Inside there is one huge overgrown potato and on the project, in small letters, you can read the name Chell.  The game becomes much darker when the actual storyline and ties to other games such as half-life 2 come into play.

The most basic form of character development is the character’s appearance because the image of a character normally determines its characteristics. Giant monsters tend to be very aggressive, strong, and stupid, while a baby would be small, cute and fragile.  The player makes these assumptions within seconds of seeing the character and if the character’s personality does not reflect the character’s appearance the player becomes confused and the mismatch often becomes annoying and an eyesore because the character does not match the player’s mental image. An example of this is Chell’s character, they depict her as a strong woman and some fragile being and GlaDOS often comments on her unnaturally large size. There is a certain scene when Chell is using a jump pad and the jump pad breaks each time she gets on.  GLaDOS then says “This plate must not be calibrated to someone of your [brief pause] Generousness. I’ll add a few zeros to the maximum weight.” This shows that Chell is not the average girl.5655067129_f65011621a_o

They strengthen the characters by giving them unique look that your brain doesn’t instantly associate with other common video game characters or characters in general. Having unique characters allows the developers to build the character to their own desire as long as they don’t clash between good and bad. For example, GLaDOS has a yellow-orange eye while Wheatley has a blue eye that seems much more friendly and matches his character. GlaDOS is also much larger than Wheatley which is in direct correlation to how much power they have. GlaDOS is in direct control of the facility and Wheatley can only control small insignificant modules.

Most importantly Portal 2 immerses the player by keeping the player thinking and focused on the current objective. The developers don’t add in many dramatic cut scenes followed by hours of pointless shooting to add time. Instead, they focus the player on specified objectives, in this case, it is solving simple logic puzzles while at the same time trying to escape from robots in a facility deep underground that has been abandoned for a very long time. They also add in simple odd humor and subtle background hints that are worked into the characters’ dialogue and the surrounding environment all the way down to the tunes the radio plays or the numbers written on the side of the housing containers.    An example of this is well-placed lines throughout the puzzle. In the example above each time, Chell steps onto the jump pad. She can see and hear Wheatly speaking very quickly and fades in and out as he continues to explain his side of the story. This helps introduce the player to a crucial component of the game, the jump pads and builds on the existing storyline. This engages the player in multiple ways and increases how immersed they are in the game.


Photo Credit:

I am I.A.M. “2011-04-23_00108” Flicker.com, April 25 2011. goo.gl/5MFXRy

I am I.A.M. “2011-04-23_00027” Flicker.com, April 23 2011. goo.gl/0Hncq1

I am I.A.M. “2011-04-21_00078” Flicker.com, April 21 2011. https://goo.gl/5e6rSj


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