As you might have possibly noticed by this point on this blog, videogames are very important to me. My usual day is spent at work, then playing games or watching content about the ones I’m playing or new ones coming out. I’m a typical geek but, to my surprise not everybody is like this. An ex of mine wasn’t interested in games and had nothing to do with them. My parents aren’t big gamers either, my Dad used play games like Centipede or Wolfenstein when I was very little and stagnated from there. All he plays now is Candy Crush which I find incredibly depressing.
When I was still at university I had a chat with some friend about which game we would choose to introduce people to the medium. There were some good answers mostly involving engrossing storylines. However the game that I believe should be used doesn’t have a deep storyline and isn’t particularly long. The mechanics are simple but absolutely perfect. The game in question is Portal.
Now of course there are a lot of different games that could be used to introduce people to games, retro games fit this bill very well but, as a modern game I think Portal can help people transition to newer games more easily. The mechanics are simple:
- The Portal Gun – fires two connected portals (blue and orange) that you or other objects can pass through
- Momentum Conservation – speedy thing goes in and speedy thing comes out. If you jump into a portal you are launched up out of the second one
- Boxes – these can be used to hold down buttons to open doors for you to progress
- Sparks – these balls of energy can unlock conduits, able to pass through portals
- Turrets – stay out of their line of sight
These are essentially the only mechanics that you need to learn and master to get through this game. It starts of simply, making sure that the player is happy with the basics like your teacher would at school and before you realise it you’re completing much more complicated puzzles with relative ease. Each of the test levels is unique and borrows some elements from previous tasks to build up to the final confrontation with GLaDOS in a logical and natural way. The game also doesn’t outstay it’s welcome. The game is actually only an hour and a half long once you know what you’re doing with each puzzle. It would have been easy for the developer to just recycle levels or even make the player do them in reverse like some have been known to do.
The game teaches you how to deal with particular obstacles and then sets you off to overcome them and then doesn’t insult you by forcing you to repeat yourself. This is a major plus for somebody who might not be a big gamer whose attention could be lost by the game becoming repetitive. It also helps that the game doesn’t take itself seriously and is quite funny (no I will not mention the c word). Portal is just a nice little package that was released 10 years ago. Personally I think it did a better job of utilising the portal mechanics than Portal 2 did but that might be because by that time I felt that the Portal Mechanics were a little stale and it just couldn’t hold my attention like the first game could.
If you have someone in your life you want to introduce to the world of videogames. I would start this this game above all others.