Portal is the most subversive game ever

A secondaryantagonist manifests in the form of security turrets scattered throughout the facility. These turrets speak in robotic voices and open fire immediately upon seeing the test subject. Their boyish voices and small stature makes the turrets seem inconsequential, however they are deadly and can kill Chell very quickly. The turrets reintroduce the traditional masculine themes of guns and control, but in an unconventional way. Turrets will make statements such as, "Hello, friend," "Can I help you?" and "Dispensing product." The purposefully cute, non-threatening dialog belies a latent destructive purpose. The turrets are easily deactivated by tipping them over, which is accomplished through the clever placement of portals. The power of the feminine overcomes aggression without the use of force.

Another non-traditional character, the Weighted Companion Cube, represents male identity in Portal. Though it is an inanimate object, the Cube is referred to as an idealized companion. The Cube is used to hold down giant buttons that open doors around the Enrichment Center, and features pink hearts emblazoned on each side. The Cube must be carried around one entire level, and is burdensome despite its usefulness. GLaDOS encourages Chell to develop emotional attachment to the Cube, despite its strictly utilitarian function of holding down buttons. Ultimately, Chell incinerates the Weighted Companion Cube, symbolizing a mental unburdening from the need for approval from a father figure.

Portal successfully reinvents both the "first-person" and the "shooter" elements of its genre in a manner that celebrates the empowerment of the feminine rather than subjugating it to objectification by the male gaze. The force of its message is amplified through its unconventional deployment of adversaries and genre archetypes. In doing so, it subtly yet powerfully points out to the entire industry that games needn't exist solely to service the libido.

Ed. note: a small factual correction has been made regarding the pronoun used to refer to the Weighted Companion Cube. Theessence of the argument remains unchanged.The author's memory was faultyand he apologizes for this error.