Portal 2: An Observer’s View

Family Games GeekMom


Image: Sarah Pinault

The last time I played a video game on the PC it involved small mammals with green hair building bridges and blowing things up – does that date me? My husband on the other hand is an avid gamer, favoring games of the Myst variety but also enjoying things like Call of Duty. So when Portal 2 came out and money was tight, I “forced” him to buy it. After a few issues with an outdated sound card we are now up and running and jumping through, I guess the fabric of space and time? Or is it just space? So rather than become a Portal widow, I sit knitting, blogging and drinking tea, in a comfy chair by the side of our computer, while my husband plays co-op with his bff.

It’s an interesting game from a layman’s perspective. My curiosity was first peaked upon finding out that one of the original programmers was a woman, and it spiked when my husband told me it was a game he’d happily play in front of our toddler, as there are no guns. Well I’ve half-heartedly watched about 90 minutes of game time now and I think he exaggerates slightly. The robots may not be able to shoot each other or inanimate objects, but they seem to be getting shot at quite a lot. Still, its comparative lack of violence is a refreshing change for such a popular game, and I like that the guns they do have are not used for violence but to open portals. I’m not really sold on the graphics, I don’t think I could stare at that screen for very long, and I think I would prefer a more inhabited world to play in, but then I’m no gamer. I do, however, like the loading graphics that are used; blueprints that show the robots coming apart in pieces and then being put back together again. It really speaks to the heart of the game’s puzzle-solving logic which does intrigue me.

I enjoy witnessing the camaraderie that exists between my husband and his friend while playing the game, watching them work together to solve a problem. I also enjoy listening to my best friend berate her husband on the other end of Steam Chat! We live an hour away from our best friends so it’s a great way to hang out virtually. Considering that the four of us play video games such as Mario Kart and Monkey Ball when we are together, I would place a safe bet on the success of any game like this that can appeal to non-gamers too. I just don’t think this is it. However it is definitely the sort of game I will have no problem introducing to Toby when he’s old enough.

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2 thoughts on “Portal 2: An Observer’s View

  1. My husband talked me into playing the first Portal game after he had finally manged to get me hooked on PC gaming. Even though the first person perspective gave me a crazy headache, I still loved playing it! When he got the second game and started playing it, I would often be in our shared office at the same time and find myself cracking up just hearing stray bits of the dialogue. I am very much looking forward to getting my chance to play it, and I have no doubt it will be one of the first PC games we let our toddler play when she decides she wants to see what all of the fuss is about! The puzzle solving aspect plus the dialogue really are a great hook.

    Glad you could enjoy being an observer a little bit. It is also a little bit reassuring to know I’m not the only wife who spends time with my husband by doing yarncraft in the same room while he’s gaming. ;o)

  2. I love the two portal games. Although being a very bad gamer, being only able to play point and click games or anything that doesn’t require speed and stuff, I enjoy watching the husband playing them. I only enjoy the story and giving my opinion as to where to jump, look or aim. Although most women hate it when their husband plays a game, I found it somewhat bonding to be able to do something “together” even if we each do different things. For example at the moment, he plays “Dirt 3” (I don’t like this kind of games) and I’m next to him on my laptop and on the net and listen to him rumble about the cars…it’s fun..

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