A to Z Challenge: (G)LaDOS

GLaDOS‘Portal’ was one of those games that made a huge impact because of how different and addictive its simple concept was. The single-player puzzle-based game was developed by Valve and bundled with ‘Half-Life 2: Episode 2’ and ‘Team Fortress 2’ as part of ‘The Orange Box’. It was an instantly enticing game for a number of reasons, not the least of which was the unique mechanic of creating portals through physical space in order to solve puzzles.

Also, it provided us with one of the most persistent goddamn internet memes of all time.
Also, it provided us with one of the most persistent goddamn internet memes of all time.

But what really made the simple story of the game come alive was GLaDOS, the antagonist and overseer of the Aperture Science computer-aided Enrichment Center, where your character is trapped. GLaDOS (which stands for Genetic Lifeform and Disk Operating System) is the central core that was designed to control all of Aperture Laboratories, but it becomes clear from the beginning that she is much more. She begins the game by encouraging the playable character, Chell, to complete testing of the Handheld Portal Device, but during these tests she is constantly bitter, rude, and cruel to Chell. As the game progresses Chell comes to know that she is the only human left at Aperture, and that GLaDOS had something to do with that.

Between the wonderful voice acting from opera single and voice actress Ellen McLain, and the quirky and clever writing from the game’s developers, GLaDOS is definitely one of my favorite video game characters. Her personality was designed to be like a computer with attitude. Her constant poking fun, bribing you with lies, and spitting barbs at you make the game so much more amusing and interesting.

Her snarky wit carried on into the sequel, ‘Portal 2′, in which we learn a great deal more about GLaDOS’ creation, making her an even more interesting character. It’s difficult to say much without completely spoiling the games for anyone who hasn’t played them, but I can give you an idea about the kind of character GLaDOS is with these quotes from both games:

“Please note that we have added a consequence for failure. Any contact with the chamber floor will result in an ‘unsatisfactory’ mark on your official testing record followed by death. Good luck!”

“Did you know you can donate one or all of your vital organs to the Aperture Science self esteem fund for girls? It’s true!”

“When I said ‘deadly neurotoxin’, the ‘deadly’ was in massive sarcastic quotes. I could take a bath in this stuff. Put it on cereal, rub it right into my eyes. Honestly, it’s not deadly at all…to me. You, on the other hand, are going to find its deadliness a lot less funny.”

“Science has now validated your birth mother’s decision to abandon you on a doorstep.”

“Well done. Here come the test results: ‘You are a horrible person.’ That’s what it says. We weren’t even testing for that.”

Did you play the ‘Portal’ games? Were you a fan? What did you think of the GLaDOS character? What’s your favorite quote? Please share!

Enjoying the A to Z Challenge? Why not check out these other participating blogs:

Silver NikNats
Part Time Monster
That girl from around the bay
Chasing Destino
Chalk Outlines
Haiku 365
Gene’O @ Just Gene’O

12 thoughts on “A to Z Challenge: (G)LaDOS

  1. HAHAHA “Science has now validated your birth mother’s decision to abandon you on a doorstep.” That sounds like some thing from the Justin Beiber Roast! This game sounds like a lot of fun. I love puzzle games. Never heard of this one.

    • HURK! *clutches heart* Never heard of it?? How could you exist on the internet for the past few years without having heard of it? lol
      It really is an awesome game though. The puzzles are so difficult and yet so obvious at the same time, you feel a mixture of pride and stupidity whenever you figure one out. lol And it’s really worth playing just for GLaDOS, seriously.

  2. The first Portal is so good with the puzzles. When you figured something out it made you feel really smart and accomplished. You really figured out that puzzle using what you had completely on your own.

    The second one… not so much. It got a little hand-holdy and obvious for more casual players. GLaDOS was still awesome in it though. Gotta admit,


    I was surprised when she turned into a potato.

    • Well hello there, you.
      I agree, the first Portal was definitely the superior one, although there was some pretty amusing banter in the second one that made it worth playing. GLaDOS tearing Wheatley a new one was really quite amusing. XD

  3. I’m afraid I’ve never played any game, except Lemmings. When we got our first mac, I unpacked it one morning (it was a pale brown box mac, very long time ago!), set it up, and found the game Lemmings on it. I started to play. Some time later the phone rang. It was the local primary school asking if I was going to pick up my son. I’d played all through lunch (I’m diabetic) and forgotten everything else, even my son. So I vowed never to play again, on anything, and i haven’t, because I’m clearly an addictive personality with a NEED to win! ~Liz http://www.lizbrownleepoet.com

  4. I LOVE Portal. Glados and I are good friends. 🙂 I spent many many many many hours figuring out the puzzles. I love puzzles. There are also some interesting things written on the walls in various places. 🙂 Thanks for sharing and bringing back memories. I don’t play many video games now since I’m writing 2 books.

  5. “You’re going to have to fling yourself.”

    I feel like you left out the icing on the cake which is a lie: the end of Portal, as the credits roll, and GLaDOS sings us away. “Still Alive,” the exact theme you do NOT want to hear playing as you finish a video game having defeated the final boss…

    “I’m making a note here, huge success.”

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