classic game Portal free through Sept 20th

Here’s a free Portal game offer from game publisher Valve for physics teachers – and everyone else, too!  Portal was published in October 2007, and went on to become one of the most popular and innovative computer games in history.  Its sequel, Portal 2, came out in April 2011.

Gamespot, a respected game review magazine, says “Valve is giving away original puzzler through Tuesday, hopes educators will use it to help teach physics, critical thinking to students.”   Portal free offer info at Gamespot

And Valve may possibly gain a few thousand or hundreds of thousands of new accounts to add to Steam’s more than four million existing users.  🙂

You awaken in a room at Aperture Science Lab as the game starts, and are equipped with the “Portal device” which can grab objects, and creates portals on most surfaces – an oval blue portal exit, and an orange portal entrance.  Using gravity and your wits, you are given a series of puzzles to solve; once you’ve solved all 18, which are a tutorial course in using the portal device, the game shifts into a more challenging time-pressured set of levels.

In gamer nomenclature, it’s a “first-person shooter” game.  But the distinctive difference is that you aren’t using a traditional gun.  The Portal device is a grappler, teleporter, and eventually can be used as a deflecting shield.  Read the Wikipedia article about Portal for a detailed summary of the way gravity, mass, and redirected momentum can be used by Chell, the player-character, to survive. Happily and refreshingly, Chell’s physical appearance is not the stereotypical video game’s big-chested woman, and she is expected to solve her own dilemma.

You have to create a free Steam online games account, then get the game.

Here is Valve’s STEM education page extolling the virtues of Portal.  What is STEM?  That’s an educators’ acronym for Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics.

And here’s Gamespot’s original portal review.

“if you place portals here and there, you will enter here and exit there, but what if here is the floor 20 feet below you and there is a spot high up on the wall? You’ll retain your momentum while going through the portal, so entering the floor portal at speed will rocket you out of the wall portal perpendicular to the floor. This has a profound impact on your strategy,but not all portal-thinking is strategic. If you place one portal at your feet and the other on the ceiling overheard, will you fall forever? Or if you put two portals on the floor side by side, could you create a reasonable facsimile of whack-a-mole? The magic of Portal is that it truly does inspire this unique flavor of spatial imagination,

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