Portal: Re-conceptualizing Virtual Space

All right, I’ll try and make this one quick. This Summer our student-aide and gaming extraordinaire, Joe McMahon, showed me a new game from the creators of Half-Life 2 called Portal, which is due out in Fall 2007. (Joe just recently started up his own blog titled Pedagaming -be sure to check it out.) The trailer for this game, which you can view below, promises something unique for the gaming experience. I’m not sure I can explain this adequately, so watch the trailer to get a demonstration.

What gets me so excited about this promised experience is that all my hard work to get orientated in virtual spaces over the years has to be re-thought, re-learned, and even more importantly re-conceptualized. We recently downloaded and set-up Doom and Quake Arena (see Joe’s post here) and I was struck by how familiar I was with the built environment of these games. When I first played games like Doom and Duke Nukem 3D it took me forever to negotiate the various levels. In fact, these were the spaces in which I first learned to navigate a three-dimensional virtual world. Having played these games more recently, I find that 13 years later I am extremely well-trained to navigate these worlds adeptly. Enter the game Portal, it promises that I will once again have to re-conceptualize this virtual space in real and complex ways, and I am very, very excited about this prospect!

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