The Orange Box and Gender

selectbutton :: View topic – Games You Played Today IV: Play Free or Die Hard
antitype of Select Button made an interesting observation on The Orange Box. Basically, he examines gender stereotypes in Team Fortress 2 (masculine) and Portal (feminine). I’ll reproduce it here since forums have a tendency to fall off the Internet:



You know, after both playing a whole lot of Team Fortress 2 and replaying Portal, I wonder how many have noticed how polarized these two games are concerning gender perspective. TF2 is a game full of invariably male avatars toting guns and knives, traditional images of masculine force. Portal, on the other hand, subverts everything about “first person shooters” by placing you in the role of a woman whose presence is not inspired by the male gaze, and whose weapon isn’t so much a phallic instrument of death as it is an egg-shaped object that creates oval portals on most surfaces, simultaneously representing both a receptive entrance and a spatial birth canal exit. And, uh… that’s all I’ve got, really, but it seems enough to make Portal a special game beyond its inventive space/physics mechanics. I’m guessing this sort of thing was discussed more back when the Orange Box came out, but as I only got around to playing TF2 recently I’m seeing this more clearly.
Couldn’t really say how exactly Episode Two or HL2 in general fits into this equation if at all, though I’m sure there are some funny ways of interpreting the gravity gun and Freeman’s one-sided “relationship” with Alyx. Does it feature both the gleefully explosive machismo of TF2 and the feminine subversion of Portal, or neither? Seems like it’s kind of between the two by those interpretations, and more understated (focused more on the dystopian humor that Portal shares)…