Ok, so next step on the road to discovering why I enjoy Portal more than other top-notch single player games, might be partially due to the protagonist being female and the game generally gender neutral. This is one of the few cases where I get, as a woman, to identify fully with the avatar in the game, which might be a subtle feature in a first-person game, but still, I think, of paramount importance. There are no military grunts, oversized weapons, primarily male cast of characters, or anything like that. The protagonist is a very androgynous discursive narrative construct - at any point Chell might as well be a man as a woman. The sleek interior of the testing facility is mirrored in the gender neutrality of the avatar. More amazingly, the avatar is not partially naked or have a massive amount of boobage. Yay; again more in line with my reality. Even the antagonist, GLaDOS is female.
The humor of the game, which is based on the narcissistic passive-aggressiveness of GLaDOS is charged with a stylized, satirical version of femininity at it’s worst. This creates a dark feminine feel to the game, although the game space with it’s clinical appearance and the focus on math, science and testing seems to diverge from the usual conception of femininity. The game seems to bridge the gap between the genders, as it presents a ludic deviation from the usual conception of male and female values. I think this might be why many non-stereotypical women (such as the more nerdy branch) appreciate this game - we are no longer cast as overtly sexual figures as in, say, WoW, where it’s positively ridiculous how better armour reveals more skin on the female characters. WTH, Blizzard?