In a couple of hours’ play, I’ve reached stage 13 of Portal, and it’s that sing-song computer voice, goading you along, that makes it work. Tim Bray’s assessment is dead-on:
Dear Marketing Professionals; when you think ‘message control’ several generational cohorts of geeky target demographics are thinking about the Portal voice.
Portal may be a spin-off of Half-Life, but the game’s true parent is the 1980′s dice and pencil role playing game Paranoia. In that game, you play characters trapped in a closed society ruled over by a broken AI. Unlike other role playing games of the period, you’re not concerned about surviving, as much as enjoying the comic hell that the Computer and the other players are going to put each other through.
Both of these games are the Book of Job, played for laughs, and if the AI is God, you’re rooting for the devil.