Bit-Picking: Humor, Horror, and Tragedy in the Portal Franchise

AWESOMEoutof10's David Chandler grabs his thinking pipe and magnifying glass and turns his critical eye toward the Portal series to find out why it's so damn funny. "Portal and its sequel build comedy by creating a world that’s constantly fighting itself, and thus in a state of perpetual malfunction that is exacerbated by the player’s ability to mess around. Valve’s particular approach was to build an atmosphere that offered horror and inject humor through scenarios, dialogue and player agency that slacken that atmospheric tension. Really, though, the lesson Portal teaches about comedy isn’t one of complicated theories about laughter–it’s one about design and commitment. Video games have a lot to offer the world of comedy, but to be effective, humor has to be more than an afterthought."

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