Shiny and slick as it may be, Portal: No Escape is not an official video. It is a fan creation of film maker Dan Trachtenberg. Professional as professional can be, yet not actually canon within the Half Life universe. It manages to exist in peace with the established plots and back-stories created by Valve, mostly by completely ignoring them. Yet viewers readily accept the short film as taking place within the world of Chell and Aperture Science. Through easy adaptations of themes and icons, the film asserts itself as being a part of the same universe while simultaneously standing apart. The Handheld Portal Device, the assigned portal colors, the creative application of physics and all ring true to the game, the snatched away reward, even through subtle re-designs (gun design, no orange jump suit, live guards not turrets, no mocking AI, more action-thriller-drama than action-puzzle-black comedy) the elusive ‘spirit’ of the world shows through. No Escape shows the viewers the connections without shouting them, each visual queue reading as an inside joke. The camera pans through a wall, the in the shadows a vague outline of a cube comes into view, the viewers lose their collective shit. Selective use of iconic imagery taps into the gamer’s/viewer’s hardwired associations, we know the woman Chell, we know what the Portal Device means, and heaven knows we know what the cubes are all about. We develop assumptions and expectations with every detail revealed, but No Escape is not obligated to fulfill these expectations, or to fulfill them the way we expect. This is not an official video, this is a fan video. This is an exploration “what if” as only be pursued by an outsider.
- Adaptive Organism: John W. Campbell’s “Who Goes There?”, Howard Hawks’ “The Thing from Another World” and John Carpenter’s “The Thing”
- I Am Iron Man (And So Am I)
- Triad: Game of Thrones