• RSS Recent Posts

    • Video Game Review: American McGee’s Alice
      After the recent release of “Alice: Madness Returns,” I  picked up a copy. With each copy, console gamers also got a free download of  the original “American McGee’s Alice.” Before playing the new Alice, I had to  go back and beat the original again. While many things were just as I had  remembered, I’m glad […]
    • Video Game Rant: Donkey Kong Country Returns
      One of my favorite games of all time is Donkey Kong Country 1 and 2. When I heard they were making a new one, I was super excited, but also somewhat skeptical. So a few months ago, I picked up a copy of Donkey Kong Country Returns to try out the new game. My fiancee also joined […]
    • Scott Pilgrim Versus the World: Movie Review
       (Warning: some spoilers) When they decided to turn this Canadian comic into a movie, I’m not sure they were aware of what a cult smash hit this would be. Topping the charts for Blu-rays on the first day it was released on home video, it’s also been on several top ten lists. It appeals to […]
    • Good Kitty: WoW Feral Cat DPS Rotation
      ***Note: this information is from before Cataclysm. There have been major changes to the class. See my sources below for more updated information.*** When I rolled Druid on the first character I legitimately got to level 80, I didn’t know what I was getting into. I leveled Feral Cat, and when I hit 80, I realized […]
    • Finding a Job
      This is a digression from my usual topics, but I wanted to share some of my strategies with other unemployed or soon to be unemployed people out there. My job search has been the focus of my free time lately, so I figured it would be the perfect topic for my next post. 1)      Assess […]
  • Archives

Weighted Companion Cube: it weighs down our hearts with love


This was inspired by my senior thesis, “Narrative in Video Games,” and contains some Portal spoilers.

Every video game has to have a cutesy mascot, from World of Warcraft’s Murlocs to the Chocobos from Final Fantasy. Portal is no exception; its Weighted Companion Cube has been featured on posters, mousepads, and has even been cosplayed. Gamers feel the need to express their love of a game, and what better way than buying a plush with one of their favorite characters?

But can you argue that a Cube is a real character? Wikipedia says a character is “any person, persona, identity, or entity that exists in a work of art.” So in order to say that the WCC is a character, that would mean games are works of art.

Since Wiki is our resident expert on pretty much everything, let’s consult it again. “Art is the process or product of deliberately arranging elements in a way that appeals to the senses or emotions.” Well, a team of designers arranges a bunch of codes in order to create a product that will appeal enough to an audience that they will buy it. Video games appeal to the senses with their visual, tactile, and audio elements, and they often produce emotional responses, such as in multiplayer FPS games (anger: OMG u noob don’t asplode ur team!1!!) or in RPGs with engaging stories (sadness: No, don’t kill the last Ancient!).

So technically the Cube is a character. But GLaDOS is a character, with way more dialogue and direct characterization. But then why aren’t there official GLaDOS plushies to cuddle and squeeze? We don’t care about GLaDOS the way we care about the Cube because of our conditioning, or the conditioning from the game. GLaDOS tells Chell not to care about the Cube, but that’s not what happens. She tells us that the Cube will accompany us through the level, and we should take care of it. It won’t ever threaten to stab us, and in fact, cannot speak. But then… after all your hard work lugging WCC through the level… journeying together past the buttons and platforms… and seeing the WCC shrine… we’re forced to euthanize our faithful companion. And, according to the sign at the incinerator, our hearts are broken as well. But don’t worry, the Cube probably doesn’t feel pain.

What do you do when someone tells you not think of a pink elephant? You think of a pink elephant. What do you do when GLaDOS tells you not to care about the Cube? You care about the Cube. And others have loved the Cube before you; why else would former test subjects dedicate poetry to it and personify the Cube in countless photographs? It feels so good to avenge your weighted friend later when you chuck GLaDOS’s parts in the same kind of incinerator, only this time your heart won’t break for GLaDOS, who made you part with your beloved Cube.

The Cube is characterized in all these ways and more, intentionally so that the players do care about its death. It is a character as real as GLaDOS, as real as Frodo, Gatsby, and Oedipus. Even though the Cube can’t speak out loud, it certainly speaks to our hearts.

~~~In loving memory of the Weighted Companion Cube~~~

The incinerator, the last resting place of the faithful Cube.

The incinerator, the last resting place of the faithful Cube.

Advertisements