When playing through Portal again, having already beaten it, a new thing that caught my attention was how easy it is to play and replay the game. I normally am one who doesn’t find much entertainment in replaying games, but playing Portal a second time through I feel as engaged as the first time through. And having read the Henry Jenkins article “Game Design As Narrative Architecture”, I think this replay value comes from the detail that is put into the game that adds to its immersive nature. The more I play, the more I feel I know about Aperture Labs, or about GLaDOS. Because the game is embedded with a strong presence of the environmental storytelling that Jenkins alludes to, it not only creates a better play through the first time, but also adds value and entertainment to the game past completion. In addition, the game designers did a very good job of using the environmental storytelling aspect of Portal to slowly tell the story of the game. It was easy to follow, but also very rewarding as each completed level not only meant a new terrain but also more plot information.
Another very unique thing regarding Portal is the addition of Developer Commentary into the game. You have to have beaten the game before accessing the game mode, but it is very interesting to hear comments from the developers as you go through the levels. For instance, on one level, a player found a short cut that bypassed the majority of the level. However, instead of fixing the “bug”, the developers rewarded the players for their ingenuity in discovering the short cut and left it in the game. And while this doesn’t necessarily impact the environmental storytelling or the embedded narrative in the game, it does provide some insight about what was going through the developers’ minds while creating Portal.