Bechdel Test: Portal

Status: Passing. Type 1, “A scene meeting these criteria is a unavoidable part of the game.”

Description: The main characters Chell and GLaDOS are female coded (Chell is a human female, GLaDOS is a female coded AI) and the game’s cast is almost entirely female. A computer sphere at the end of the game is male coded, and “ratman” might be considered a character in absentia, as you never see him but find “dens” with his scrawled writings as you play the game.

Chell, is a silent protagonist so some may disagree that Chell and GLaDOS truly communicate. However, in the context of the game I’d say it most certainly does GLaDOS is clearly trying to communicate with Chell via her constant dialogue. The games creators have repeatedly said that Chell doesn’t talk as a “screw you!” gesture, to the robots who are all “acting like dicks”. That we as the gamer follow her instructions during the training portions of the game are another clue that we should intercept Chell and GLaDOS exchanges as communicative.

Source: Author play through, (link to portal script)


Portal and its squeal Portal 2 are two of the most ripe games for feminist analysis currently on the market. I hope to discuss some of these themes here personally. But till then here are some links to others analysis of the games:

Still Alive? She’s Free.

Portal is the most subversive game ever

Video Game Feminist of the Decade: or, when “You” is a girl

Portal 2 and Feminism

Portal and feminism – plot!

Portal and feminism – chell!

Portal and feminism – GLaDOS!


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