Thursday, March 15, 2012

Portal as Postmodern Journey: My never-completed thesis

Of all the current arty things going on, video games seem to replay the journey myth the most. A young, attractive protagonist is called to save the world, descends into the demonic realm, and receives a boon after his dragon-battle. Ocarina of Time seems to follow it the closest, and even has a literal "belly of a whale" dungeon. Link ends triumphant, probably with some sort of princess (I never finished, sadly).

Not all video games are content to replay this classic scenario. In Portal, the game ends with the enemy definitely "still alive," and Chell's continued existence is ambiguous. This along with other elements mark it as a postmodern journey (want to know them all? Go ahead and read it...). 

I dropped out of my graduate school program because I realized that my professors had a completely different vision for my thesis than I did (among other reasons). Here's a link to the last draft of my thesis, which, oddly, has been stripped of most of its citations (I was to "add them back in"). It has many problems right now, and I don't really want to ever look at it again, but suffice to say that I'm painfully aware that it is incomplete. I think I wanted the ideas to be somewhere on the internet, and for my years of work to not go completely to waste.

Alongside Portal, my thesis discusses Danielewski's novel, House of Leaves as another postmodern journey. House of Leaves is both ridiculously pretentious and delightfully experimental (and has some super scary parts), and I recommend it for those interested in ergodic/interactive texts. 

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