Codex Gamicus
GLaDOS, as she appears in Portal (2007).
Series Portal
First game Portal (2007)
Created by Erik Wolpaw
Kim Swift
Voiced by Ellen McLain

GLaDOS (Genetic Lifeform and Disk Operating System) is a fictional character in the 2007 Valve Software video game Portal. She was created by Erik Wolpaw and Kim Swift. She is an artificially intelligent computer system in charge of operating Aperture Science, the location of Portal. While initially appearing as a voice to guide and aid the player, her words and actions become increasingly malicious, making multiple attempts to kill the player-character. She eventually is revealed to be insane, having killed the scientists who ran Aperture previously with a deadly neurotoxin before they could install her morality core. She is set to appear in the sequel, Portal 2, taking place 300 years after the player-character defeats GLaDOS and being placed back in the chamber.

She was created after Wolpaw used a text-to-speech program while writing the lines to the video game Psychonauts. He found it hilarious that people were finding lines funnier just by the virtue of being spoken through this. While initially she was only intended to be used in the relaxation chamber, the first area of Portal, her role was expanded after being well received by the game's developers. Wolpaw noted that play testers were more motivated to complete a chamber with her guiding them. While the game was intended to feature multiple characters, in the end, the developers made GLaDOS the only character that the player ever encountered. The physical appearance of GLaDOS had gone through several redesigns, including one with a large disk below her, before she was given a body. Ellen McLain was chosen to voice GLaDOS, and had to imitate the text-to-speech program using her own voice. She performed for the song "Still Alive", written by Jonathan Coulton, which played during the credits of Portal. The song has been a huge success, appearing in the Rock Band series.

Since appearing in Portal, GLaDOS has been very well-received, considered to be one of the greatest video game characters ever created. She was universally praised for her contributions to the quality of Portal's writing, winning multiple awards for best new character from GameSpy, GamePro, and X-Play. She has been described as a narcissist, passive-aggressive, sinister, and witty. A number of web sites listed her as one of the greatest video game villains, with IGN ranking her as the all-time greatest. She has been the subject of significant analysis, from both journalists and video game developers, with comparisons made between her and other evil or insane computers in fiction, including HAL 9000 from 2001: A Space Odyssey and SHODAN from the System Shock series.


For much of Portal, GLaDOS is a voice which acts as a narrator and guide for players. Her voice is robotic, but distinctly female. Her personality has been described as passive-aggressive, witty, and sinister. She has a system of morality cores installed into her, in order to prevent her from killing anyone. Eventually, once the player encounters her, she is revealed to be a complex computer, with robotic parts hanging from a larger device. The device displays rapidly changing images on a series of monitors, an example of the images being pieces of cake. Upon removing the first morality core, GLaDOS' voice becomes less robotic and more sensual. It is revealed in the later portions of the game that she was originally conceived as a means of competing with their competitors, Black Mesa. She was created as a device to de-ice fuel lines. However, she also has a fully-functional disk operating system. The AI of GLaDOS is installed as the Enrichment Center's central control computer, mounted in a large, sealed chamber alongside control consoles and an incinerator.


In Portal, she is Chell's only link with the situation she is placed in; at the game's start, GLaDOS introduces Chell to the game's Enrichment Center and the physics of the portal gun. In later stages of the center, GLaDOS admits to having lied to Chell about her progress, as part of a supposed 'test protocol.' GLaDOS slowly becomes more sinister, and Chell's trust in GLaDOS is tested when the AI directs Chell into a testing area populated with live-fire turrets, a course designed for military androids. The AI claims that the regular test chamber is unavailable due to "mandatory scheduled maintenance".[citation needed] GLaDOS uses the lure of cake and grief counseling to encourage Chell to continue, but at the final testing area, as Chell prepares to receive the supposed cake, GLaDOS attempts to incinerate Chell in a fire pit. Once Chell escapes, GLaDOS attempts to reconcile with Chell, claiming the pit was a final test.

Chell then travels through the bowels of the Enrichment Center, battling natural hazards and further turrets until she reach GLaDOS's chamber, where the final battle occurs. In this encounter Chell dislodges special Modules (each also voiced by McLain, with the exception of the final Module, which is voiced in a guttural fashion by Mike Patton) and incinerates them. During the battle, it is revealed that before the events of Portal, GLaDOS released a neurotoxin into the Enrichment Center before they could install her morality core, killing the scientists. Upon incinerating the last Module, a portal malfunction occurs in GLaDOS' chamber, launching Chell to the surface while apparently destroying GLaDOS. However, the final scene shows a room filled with more special modules that begin to light up. They surround the cake that GLaDOS had promised Chell. A mechanical arm descends and extinguishes the cake's candle, suggesting that GLaDOS is still alive, which the end song, "Still Alive", confirms.

GLaDOS appears again in Portal 2, which takes place hundreds of years from Portal. Apparently dormant, she is awoken by Chell (who was placed in stasis over the centuries) and immediately vows to get her revenge on Chell for killing her. As Chell attempts escape from the facility with the help of other personality cores, GLaDOS begins to repair and recreate the Aperture Environment to her exacting needs.[1] GLaDOS has been used several times related to reveals in the Portal series. At E3 2008, GLaDOS' voice was utilized to reveal the Portal expansion Portal: Still Alive.[2] She has also been used to show Portal 2 reveals; initially, a Blue Screen of Death image was used in the stead of a reveal of Portal 2, showing the typical text found in a blue screen of death, but with GLaDOS' name at the top.[3] In the reveal of the PlayStation 3 version of Portal 2, GLaDOS' voice was used to introduce Gabe Newell, the co-founder of Valve Software at E3 2010, where he revealed Portal 2 for the PlayStation 3.[4]

Development history[]

Before development of GLaDOS had begun, Erik Wolpaw was writing the script for the video game Psychonauts, where they went around the office, finding people to provide voices to the words until they could add the final voices to the game. Once they ran out of people, however, he began using a text-to-speech program. According to Wolpaw, people found the lines funnier than they were worth. He commented that "no amount of writing is funnier than this text-to-speech thing reading it."[5] He became bitter about that, stating that he would leverage this and use it to his advantage.[5] The creation of GLaDOS began with a discussion between the Valve team and Wolpaw on the narrative restraints they had to deal with.[5] When they were designing the game, they found that they did not have enough time or staffing to use human characters, due to the amount of animation work and scene choreography involved.[5]

A week later, to alleviate this problem, Wolpaw returned with sample dialogue made with a text-to-speech program, which were intended to be used as a series of messages relayed to the player in the relaxation vault, the first area of the game. The team liked the voice, describing it as "funny" and "sinister", so Wolpaw decided to add this voice to other test chambers, all the while trying to think of story elements. It was discovered that play testers were more motivated with the voice, because they became attached to the voice. As a result, the team decided to make GLaDOS the narrative voice of Portal.[6] While designing GLaDOS, one of the rules that the writers had was that they would not make her seem like a computer, using an example line, "Oh my nuts and bolts." While GLaDOS is physically a computer and speaks with a computerized voice, they intended her to speak to the player-character like a regular person.[5] In retrospect, writer Chet Faliszek found the creation of several specific characters, including GLaDOS, to be a terrifying prospect, due to the excitement people have over older characters.[7]

File:Birth of Venus Botticelli.jpg

The Birth of Venus was the inspiration for an earlier design of GLaDOS, where GLaDOS' physical appearance was similar to the Roman goddess Venus', but upside down.

GLaDOS' physical appearance went through several iterations. Early designs used for her included a floating brain, a spider-like appearance, and an upside-down version of Sandro Botticelli's painting The Birth of Venus with the four personality cores around her body.[8] Eventually, they settled on the design of the robotic figure hanging upside down. This was done to convey both a sense of raw mechanical power and femininity.[9] A large disk with the four personality cores hanging from it was added to her design, when she was still just a sphere standing above it. However, the team found it to be too small, giving her a body and putting it below the disk.[8] Another early design was when GLaDOS was only a cube, which was used for the removed laser battle mentioned below.[10] The large chamber that the player-character encounters was the result of the team wanting to build a space that brought a great deal of attention to her.[8]

GLaDOS was written with the intent of making her more understandable and empathetic to players, making her villainy more tragic. Kim Swift, team leader of Portal, described her growth in the game as her becoming more and more human. The two-hour total playtime for Portal allowed the writers enough time to let players get to know GLaDOS.[11] Wolpaw commented that while GLaDOS did yell and fire rockets at the player, she fulfilled his desire for a villain who has not been "done to death".[12] He described her as both supportive and funny, while also sad and scared. One of his intentions was for players to believe that they are "putting her through the wringer emotionally."[12] The game was designed to have a clear beginning, middle, and end. Wolpaw stated that with each new part, GLaDOS' personality changed. She begins as a supportive, yet also increasingly sinister character, where she delivers exposition about the general Aperture mindset. However, once the player-character escapes, she begins to speak in first-person singular rather than first-person plural. She shows desperation due to her lack of control at this point, adding that more emotion begins to creep through her voice. After destroying the morality core, she becomes unhinged, featuring an almost human voice. This voice, described as sultry by Wolpaw, was originally to be used for turrets, but it did not work out. Because they liked it so much, they chose to use it for GLaDOS.[12] Valve described GLaDOS' actions in Portal 2 as attempting to build a relationship with the player-character, and the only way to accomplish this is by testing her.[13]

Voice design[]

File:Jonathan Coulton cropped.jpg

Jonathan Coulton, the composer of the song "Still Alive".

In creating the voice for GLaDOS, voice actress Ellen McLain attempted to sound like a computer. This was accomplished by the Valve team playing a computer-generated voice for her, and she would try to emulate it, adding emotion to the lines when called for.[14] While designing her voice, Swift commented that it was difficult to write some of the lines for GLaDOS, describing McLain as "super likable", and that they should write for that.[11] She also performed the song "Still Alive", which features GLaDOS singing to the effect that she is still alive by the end of Portal. This song was written by Jonathan Coulton, who was approached by the team and asked if he would want to write a song for them. He later decided that it would be a good idea to do a song featuring one of the voices from the game that would tie up the story at the end.[15] Swift stated that the team wanted the players to leave the game happy, leading to them implementing the song in the first place. Wolpaw and the other writers wrote down a list of things that would make people happy, which resulted in "Still Alive".[16] In discussing the difficulties in singing the song as GLaDOS, McLain listed one of the difficulties as breathing, due to the fact that computers do not need to breathe. As a result, she had to sing the phrases in one breath, while attempting to keep a clean, even tone.[17] Swift commented in an interview that one of the focuses of developing the game was for players to hear GLaDOS and hear her song.[18]

Final battle[]

File:GLaDOS concept art.jpg

Conceptual art depicting GLaDOS before she was given a body.

In designing the final encounter with GLaDOS, one of the important aspects to it was giving the players a predisposition to the Weighted Companion Cube, an object that GLaDOS gives to the player-character and told to protect. This was accomplished by forcing players to incinerate it, therein providing a tutorial for how to defeat the boss and a revenge angle. GLaDOS was originally designed to be a devious boss, citing one form where she would use a series of lasers, like those seen in James Bond films. However, it was determined that this twitch gameplay distracted players from GLaDOS, and was too different from the game's puzzle-solving gameplay. Additionally, it was difficult for players to detect when they were hit, so the developers switched the gameplay to feature rockets. This incarnation of the final boss was dubbed "Portal Kombat," which Swift describes as a "high intensity rocket battle."[16] However, Wolpaw disliked it because no one was paying attention to what GLaDOS was saying. While it went over well with hardcore shooter fans, the people who liked the puzzle-focused gameplay were turned off by it. The third boss was a chase scene, with players pursuing GLaDOS down a corridor. Wolpaw sharply criticized the pacing, which caused the players to wander around until they found the corridor, at which point a series of pistons would spring out of the walls.[16]

The developers came to the conclusion that complex battles would only serve to confuse players. One play tester helped them by pointing out the quality of the fire pit puzzle, a puzzle that has the player-character riding on a moving platform that is descending into flames, requiring players to find a way to survive. He stated that it was both dramatic and exciting, but also a difficult puzzle. Wolpaw stated that this made no sense, commenting that it was one of the easiest puzzles in the game. He added that the battle was a dramatic high-point, since it was being the first time GLaDOS directly tries to kill the player-character and the first time that players have to use the environment to their advantage. After learning about what fellow Valve developers had planned for the final boss battle in Half-Life 2: Episode Two, the Portal developers decided to implement a neurotoxin would kill the player-character in six minutes.[10] This made it easier on the writers, who only had to write six minutes of dialogue. As a result, they scaled the game back, intending to ensure that everyone was able to see the game to the very end.[16]

Cultural impact[]

Since appearing in Portal, GLaDOS has become one of the most popular characters in 2007, to the extent that voice actress Ellen McLain has received fan mail for her portrayal of her.[17] GLaDOS has been described as one of the most engaging characters ever to appear in a video game by IGN.[14] In discussing the lack of female heroes in video games, particularly in video games published by Activision, Gamasutra news director Leigh Alexander cited GLaDOS while arguing that the "females do not sell" notion is possibly false logic, stating that she was on the fast track to becoming gaming's most beloved characters.[19] Following the release of Portal, a fan-made voice option was created for Garmin GPSes that allowed users to hear directions in GLaDOS' voice.[20] A t-shirt depicting GLaDOS, as well as other elements from Portal, was made available for purchase on Valve's store.[21] A cosmetics vendor called "Geek Chic Cosmetics" features several video game-themed makeups, including one based on GLaDOS.[22]

The song "Still Alive" has garnered significant attention from fans and critics alike. It was released as a part of The Orange Box Official Soundtrack and appeared in other video games, including the Rock Band series and Left 4 Dead 2." The song has been performed in venues by Jonathan Coulton, including the Penny Arcade Expo in 2008, Press Start -Symphony of Games- in 2009, and the 2008 Game Developers Conference, performed in Rock Band.[23][24][25] The song is popular for remixing and covering by fans on YouTube.[26] A VG Cats flash animation featured the song as taken from the game.[27]

GLaDOS has been featured in web comics over the years. The comic Penny Arcade awarded Portal the "best writing" award, amongst others, and featured a silhouette of GLaDOS to represent it.[28] An aforementioned web comic by XKCD featured GLaDOS as well.[29] The web comic Dueling Analogs featured the encounter between GLaDOS and Chell, the star of Portal, with GLaDOS stating: "If I knew you were coming, I'd've baked a cake." This is in reference to the fact that cake is offered as a reward to Chell throughout the game.[30]


Primo Technology cited the first time players hear GLaDOS speak in The Orange Box as one of the greatest moments in the package.[31] Paste Magazine listed her as one of the best new characters of the decade, describing her as the most likable villain in video game history.[32] Editor in chief of Game Developer Magazine described GLaDOS as sympathetic, stating that it felt like he was breaking her heart, but also describing it as fun.[11] A humour article on MTV's Multiplayer Blog by Russ Frushtick discussed the administrative personnel in gaming that should be honoured, saying that GLaDOS has a bad rap, due to the level of patience required to test someone.[33] Gamasutra writers Leigh Alexander, Brandon Boyer, Simon Carless, and Christian Nutt listed GLaDOS as being the second most affecting video game character, being the highest-ranked actual character due to the fact that the most affecting video game character was the player. They attribute the overall quality of Portal to GLaDOS, stating that without her, Portal would not be nearly as quotable. They added that the relationship between GLaDOS and the player-character has been described as passive-aggressive, maternal, and a "feminist manifesto."[34]

Epic Games design director Cliff Bleszinski praised Portal for it making him want to get from area to area to see what GLaDOS would say next. He compared the situation to an ex-girlfriend, citing a series of text messages that went from friendly, to aggressive, and finally to being apologetic.[35] editor Justin Towell listed her as the third most difficult game bad guy to kill, stating that his like for GLaDOS is similar to that of hostages bonding with their captor.[36] IGN editor Daemon Hatfield described GLaDOS as one of the most engaging characters to appear in a video game.[14] Cinema Blend featured GLaDOS as the best character of 2007, stating that she "breathes life, emotion, and hilarity into the lab of Portal."[37] GamesRadar praised Portal as having one of the best video game stories ever, citing GLaDOS as the primary reason for this. They stated that she had one of the most defined personalities in gaming, adding that she "redefined passive-aggressive."[38] Shoot 'em up expert Michael Molinari cited GLaDOS as an example of a quality boss, stating that her quality stems from her appearing throughout the game, providing motivation as well as a satisfying pay-off at the end of the game.[39] Editor Randy Smith commented that the battle with GLaDOS was "easy," commenting that it was "fun and fluid" rather than "annoyingly insurmountable." However, he added that it had an "air of epicness."[40] Whereas Smith found the battle easy, UGO Networks Chris Littler included GLaDOS in his list of the 50 "Hardest Freakin' Boss Battles."[41]

GLaDOS has won several awards in 2007 for her role in Portal. IGN editor Hilary Goldstein awarded her the "Best of the Worst Guiding Voices", commenting that it was between her and BioShock character Atlas. However, he gave the award to GLaDOS, citing her humour as the prime reason.[42] GameSpy awarded her the "Best Character" award, stating that she came from the most unexpected place – a game that could have gotten by without a story. They added that during the final encounter, her mood swings provided some of the most memorable dialogue in video game history.[43] X-Play similarly awarded her with the best new character award.[44] GamePro awarded GLaDOS, referred to as "The Voice" in their article, the most memorable villain award, describing the decision as a surprise upset, considering either Frank Fontaine of BioShock or Saren of Mass Effect to win.[45] GLaDOS has received other awards, including "best nemesis of 2007" from Primo Technology, best new character from GameSpot, and character of the year from Man!ac.[46] Specifically, Primo Technology stated that hearing her voice in the situation the player-character was in was disconcerting. However, they added that they were heart-broken to see her go.[47]

Villainy and humour[]

GLaDOS is frequently cited as both a quality villain and a quality computer character. IGN called her as the greatest video game villain of all time, stating that while their time with her was short, she left a mark on players like no other villain has. They cited her uniqueness as being due to the fact that no other players existed in the game. They also added she was more human than most video game villains.[48] editor Scott Sharkey praised her as being the best insane video game computers. He stated that not only is she the best insane computer in video games, but in films and books as well. He explains his choice by citing her eagerness to kill the player-character, but not being overt about it until the end. He also cites her feminine voice and passive-aggressive manner for his decision.[49] In another article, he mentions how he feels more sorry for her than any other enemy, describing her as a "digital version of the most passive-aggressive girlfriend ever." He adds that he can imagine it not being easy to be a super-intelligent computer trapped in a single building.[50] Crave editor Rich Trenholm also regarded her highly, listing her as the fifth best evil computer.[51] PC World editor Spandas Lui listed GLaDOS as the second most "big-time, badass video game villain", citing her various non-sequiturs and her personality as why she is one of the most memorable video game villains of all time.PC World editor Spandas Lui listed GLaDOS as the second most "big-time, badass video game villain", citing her various non-sequitur one-liners and personality for her becoming one of the most memorable video game villains ever.[52] Pittsburgh Live editor Jessica Severs described GLaDOS as having the most entertaining villainy due to her promises of cake and her encouragements such as "This next test is impossible."[53] GameDaily listed her as the most horrific video game boss, describing her as "polite, passive-aggressive, and insanely sadistic." They add that while the game may be short, GLaDOS will "resonate with players long after players finish it."[54]

GLaDOS has received praise for her humour and wit. In his review of Portal, PC Gamer editor Tom Francis stated that he could hardly stop himself from laughing at GLaDOS' deranged writing.[55] Similarly, GamesRadar editor Tom Francis described her as hysterical and being an aspect of Portal that gamers will love.[56] called GLaDOS as one of the most badass boss fights in video games, citing both the hilarity of the character, with whom they state as the funniest video game villain since the Purple Tentacle from Day of the Tentacle, as well as the memorable quotes.[57] PC Zone UK listed her as the second best conceived character in gaming, commenting that the memes related to the Weighted Companion Cube and "the cake is a lie" could distract people from GLaDOS' "perfectly-metered and lyrical voice." He described her as the "humorous, clinical, savage and poignant heart of Portal."[58] In a piece in The Observer, game theorist and author of Fun Inc Tom Chatfield listed GLaDOS as one of the ten best video game characters of all time, describing her as both as "gaming's funniest, freakiest female" and a "psychopathic artificial intelligence."[59] The Academy of Interactive Arts & Sciences praised Portal for its "hint of comedy," citing GLaDOS' "humorous and homicidal" personality.[60] Writer Lou Kesten, in discussing humour in video games, cited GLaDOS as possibly being the first time he discovered that video games could make him laugh out loud.[61] New York Times editor Charles Herold praised GLaDOS, calling her comments "wildly funny."[62] In an article titled "The GLaDOS Effect - Can Antagonists Rule the World?", Gamasutra publisher Simon Carless describes her as the one true memorable character from Portal. He states that she is the reason he keeps returning to play Portal, describing her as funny, unexpected, and beguiling.[63]


GLaDOS has been compared to characters in fiction, including HAL 9000 from the film 2001: A Space Odyssey. LucasArts developer Noah Falstein described her as the best AI he had ever encountered – "more convincingly psychotic than HAL, with a more emotionally engaging death than Floyd, and funnier than C3PO and R2D2."[64] GamesRadar editor Tyler Wilde stated that while the staff of GamesRadar loves GLaDOS, it makes no sense to insert a personality core into a robot. He suggested that the scientists either never read 2001: A Space Odyssey, or read it too much.[65] Empire Online listed her as the 12th best video game character of all time, describing her acts as "HAL-like conduct".[66] The humour web comic XKCD featured GLaDOS in one of their comics, showing her replacing Dave, protagonist of 2001: A Space Odyssey, as HAL's assistant[29] Writer Stephen Totilo alluded the final battle with GLaDOS to the scene of David from 2001 disabling HAL, with both scenes involving de-evolving the respective characters.[67]

MSNBC game reviewer Blake Snow compared The Sign Painter from World of Goo to GLaDOS, due to the mischievousness and unseen nature of the character.[68] In response to GLaDOS beating SHODAN of System Shock 2 on a list of the most insane video game computers, Softpedia editor Andre Dumitrescu stated that GLaDOS was undeserving of this award. He added that while GLaDOS did insane things, SHODAN did all of it and more.[69] GamesRadar editor Mikel Reparaz also made such a comparison, stating that before GLaDOS broke their hearts, they had SHODAN.[70] However, PC Zone UK commented that the comparisons between GLaDOS and SHODAN run dry; while Portal leaves everything to the players' imagination, System Shock 2 has a strongly defined storyline. They do, however, describe her breakdown as hysterical, desperate, and hilariously childish, calling it the most finely controlled breakdown since Patrick Bateman's in the book American Psycho.[58] The Daily Telegraph editors Nick Cowen and Tom Hoggins listed her as the ninth greatest video game villain, stating that she is as diabolical as a female AI can get, mentioning SHODAN as being inferior in this respect.[71]

In his analysis of Portal, Daniel Johnson stated that the narrative component of Portal could be dissected into two parts, which includes the relationship between the player-character and GLaDOS. He adds that because the relationship between them is built on language, that it can be derived that the narrative of Portal is constructed on GLaDOS' dialogue and the game world. He provided a diagram explaining how the game world acts as a "tangible institution", while GLaDOS acts as an "actual institution". He states that while the game world is needed to provide context to players, GLaDOS wins out due to her dialogue, which he says defines the area as an institution. He also discusses the concept of the back stage of the institution becoming the front stage, citing when the player-character finds her way into the back areas. He uses an early example of this, where GLaDOS' words speed up and go into Spanish; GLaDOS repairs this by going into her next line. He calls this the first flaw of the institution.[72] Microsoft Game Studios developer Tom Abernathy, in discussing the importance of video game characters, brought up Portal, stating that players had to read between the lines to understand the needs and wants of her. His view is that GLaDOS is conflicted between her wants and needs – her want to be liked, and her need to test the portal gun.[73] Totilo, in a debate over Portal with Newsweek editor N'Gai Croal, he made a hypothetical question of whether peoples' expectations of GLaDOS' character in the beginning would stay true. He commented that he himself had to develop his understanding of her slowly but surely. He also commented that where he felt disinterested in other bosses, using Bowser in Super Mario Sunshine as an example, he was driven to find GLaDOS and destroy her, a feeling of want that he states that he does not know if he has ever felt that before. However, Croal argues that GLaDOS is not as much defined or revealed as she is depicted. Additionally, he commented that the boss battle with GLaDOS is similar to the "Room 19" encounter with Andrew Ryan, citing the same use of tactical language and techniques between the two.[67]

Video game developer Nathan Frost described Portal as an "exploration of a relationship with someone with narcissistic personality disorder." He adds that in order to fulfill her self-centered narcissistic desire to toy with someone, the player-character is trapped in the Enrichment Center, forced to do tricks for the computer. However, once the player-character becomes skilled enough to break the confines of the center, GLaDOS' secure amusement gives way to "histrionic, bipolar deportment." He describes this as a parallel to how a real-life narcissist might attempt to secure the admiration of another person by empowering them in some ways, but limiting them in others. He adds that this works out well for the narcissist until the other person learns to think and act for themselves. He concludes by saying that a part of Portal's resonance comes from the fact that using the portal gun to escape the center is a "cogent metaphor for escaping an intimate relationship with someone diagnosably narcissistic."[5]

In the book Extra Lives: Why Video Games Matter, Infinity Ward developer Michael Boon mentioned GLaDOS and BioShock character Andrew Ryan while discussing believable non-playable characters. He commented that while shooting games in general feature enemies as bullet magnets, both Andrew Ryan and GLaDOS do not provide an opportunity for players to shoot them. However, he adds that both characters end up defeating themselves, but in different ways. He stated that she was "so entertaining", but also that he wanted to kill her. Author of the book, Tom Bissell, stated that in addition to these similarities, both were well-written, describing them as "funny, strange, cruel, and alive."[74] Scott Rogers, author of the book Level Up!: The Guide to Great Video Game Design, used GLaDOS as an example of a "tormentor" boss character, stating that she taunts and challenges the players, but does not directly confronts or attacks them.[75] Video game developer Andrew Doull described the "unreliable narrator" as a narrative staple, stating that GLaDOS is the best example of this staple in gaming. He cites a scene in Portal where GLaDOS states that the puzzle that the player-character is in is unsolvable, which turns out to be false. However, he comments that it is amazing to him how people read the situation they are in when GLaDOS proceeds to direct the player to the fire pit, stating that this narrative technique failed to transfer readily into gaming.[76]


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