Portal and Gender

As we all know by now, both the protagonist and villain in Portal are female. However, this isn’t nearly as big of a deal as, for example, Lara Croft is to Tomb Raider. Perhaps this is because Chell is rarely seen in the game due to the first-person perspective. In fact, unless you might get through much of the game before realizing that you’re playing a female at all. As for GladOS, she’s really nothing but a creepy voice, so her gender is also not the focal point of her character. With Lara Croft it’s painfully obviously during play that you are female- just look at her proportions.
But does their gender really make a difference? Gameplay is not affected, nor do I see this as some metaphor to the place of women in society. It seems to me rather that the gamemakers just happened to make Chell female. However, through some research I found that GladOS reportedly says this,
“Did you know that you can donate one or all of your vital organs to the Aperture Science Self-Esteem Fund for Girls? It’s true!”
as well as,
“Remember, the Aperture Science Bring-Your-Daughter-To-Work Day is the perfect time to have her tested.”
HA! I missed these comments during my gameplay (or just didn’t think about them too much), but man, GladOS’s remark does seem a little biting towards femininity. I’m interested in how you all perceive the attitude of GladOS and whether or not this is reflective of any sort of statement on gender.

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One Response to Portal and Gender

  1. Farah Madi says:

    I also agree that the fact that all of the characters in the game are female does not affect me. It could be a biased statement since I am a female, but I would not have cared that much if they were male either. When I first saw myself through a portal, I did think it was interesting that I was a female, since that is not the norm of current video games, but that could have been the point of using female characters: to change it up a little. Maybe the creators did not want it to be all male characters so that the players could see that it is not like many other games out in the market. It makes it a little different. I think if the characters were all male, then there would not be any discussion on the gender of the characters; we would just take it for granted. Maybe they just wanted to stir some interest into the game. Also, I do think it is a little weird that those two statements are very female-oriented, but it could have been done just for humor and to exaggerate the female-dominated presence in the game. I actually like that the characters are all female in the game, but it does not change my gameplay at all.

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