Problem Solving in Portal and Portal 2

“The cake is a lie,” but the fun is real!

I <3 Portal and Portal 2!
Portal and Portal 2 are first-person, puzzle games with difficulty levels ranging from easy to clever to challenging.  In Single Player Story Mode, you play the role of Chell who is a test subject kept preserved by Aperture Science Laboratories.  The object of the game is to use your portal gun to navigate your way through each chamber.  Each chamber is designed and overseen for “testing” by the AI central core, GLaDOS.


GLaDOS has bit of a dark sense of humor and is compelled to continue “testing” throughout the game which makes Portal and Portal 2 more enjoyable to play.

Specifically in Portal 2, in Co-Op Mode, you and your teammate each play as one of the robots, Atlas and P-body.  Both robots have an interesting background and are lovable characters in their own ways.  Atlas and P-body interact also as test subjects for the ominous GLaDOS.  Like Single Player Mode, you and your teammate navigate through the many “Testing Chambers” across the incomprehensibly enormous Aperture Science Laboratories.  However, on top of searching and solving for a way to the exit of each chamber, your success is ultimately dependent on your teamwork from start to finish.

Atlas & P-body

These games are: unique, revolutionary, clever, humorous, logic-stimulating, and immensely fun to play.  Being a Math geek and an education advocate, I highly recommend these games for the sake of mental exercise and Mathematics. Granted, you won’t find any algebraic equations throughout the games but in the grand scheme of things you are essentially “solving for x.”


The player uses his or her sense of Mathematics by:

  • learning the objectives of each level,
  • learning new tools and tricks to solve each level, and
  • applying the tools and tricks learned to continually solve their way to the end of the game.

But there’s MORE!

The game isn’t over simply by completing all the levels and unlocking all the achievements. The players can also design their own chambers filled with twists and turns, friends and foes, and all kinds of goodies from the game in the Community Workshop! (I’m not sure if the Workshop is explicit to Mac and PC.) Regardless, the Community Testing Chamber Workshop is a “gem at the end” in the perspective of a Mathematics curriculum. That is to say, not only to the players apply what they learned from the game but to further their understanding, they are given the tools necessary to create their own fun problems for others to solve!

These mind-teasing and tantalizingly fun games are available for XBox, PS3, Mac and PC.

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