Portal Pedagogy

Right now I’m listening to The Experience Points podcast. Episode 96 features Michael Abbot of Brainy Gamer:

Michael is in the process of launching “Enduring Questions,” a course “devoted to engaging students with fundamental questions of humanity from multiple perspectives and fostering a sense of community.” In addition to more traditional texts, some sections of the course will have Portal on the syllabus. We were thrilled to learn this and invited Michael to join us in discussing the course, how video games function as academic texts, and the challenges involved in teaching games.

I think I’ve read more analysis on Portal than any other game, most notably the one about how GlaDOS is a slave. There must be something about how Portal isn’t really like most games, which invites a more in-depth look to it than something like Call of Duty.


The game is so well written and it’s so simple, in the good sense of the word, that it enables you to access what’s happening if you’re willing to just keep plowing through and keep solving those puzzles, it slowly starts to wash over you – this kind of dawning realization that “OH, I see what’s going on here.” And I think with gamers, non-gamers, I think that’s really effective.