Valve writer talks about why Chell doesn’t speak in Portal or Portal 2

Saturday, 7th May 2011 23:12 GMT By Stephany Nunneley

Valve’s Erik Wolpaw has said one of the reasons Chell doesn’t speak in Portal 2 is because she is a silent protagonist which “could be anyone.”

“[Chell] could be anyone,” Wolpaw said during a NYU’s Game Center talk. “It could be you. There’s the silent protagonist, which I don’t know is specifically a Valve thing, but it’s a thing. It’s probably a little bit tougher in Half-Life, because it’s slightly more realistic and there’s conversations that are happening and you kind of have to write around why Gordon isn’t saying anything.

“I don’t think people are super invested in the character of Chell…obviously because we haven’t given her much character. But they’re invested in the relationship they have as the player. We always assumed she could talk, she just chooses not to, what with robots all being dicks, why give them the satisfaction?”

Chell is also used as a bit comedy in the game, especially because she is more of a bystander in the games.

“There’s this thing with comedy…there’s sort of two different patterns,” said Wolpaw. “One is, you’re the straight man in a world gone mad, and the other one is you’re a crazy person in a straight world. Portal is definitely the world gone mad straight man, and the straight man is you. Because you have to write in the margins in a game, time is at a premium, so the fact that there’s already this established thing where you have a silent protagonist, that saves us a lot of time.

“You may want to know Chell’s backstory, you may want to hear her say things, but I guarentee, if she had to say her straight man lines at the expense of half of the other dialog, it would suck.”

Thanks, MTV.




  1. freedoms_stain

    I read this earlier somewhere else, lol’d at the “robots all being dicks” comment.

    #1 3 years ago
  2. TheWulf

    The statement about robots though also carries for people, too. :p Though in the defence of the robots, both GLaDOS and Wheatley seemed fine when they weren’t connected to that evil, corruptive mainframe. I actually liked both of them out of it. :P

    #2 3 years ago
  3. xxJPRACERxx

    That’s the same reason why Gordon Freeman don’t speak as well.

    #3 3 years ago
  4. rrw

    quite obvious answer

    #4 3 years ago
  5. Kabby

    Chell IS Gordon Freeman.

    #5 3 years ago
  6. TheWulf


    Close! Chell is Gordon’s daughter. >_>

    #6 3 years ago
  7. Kabby

    That is just the cover story.

    #7 3 years ago
  8. Mafa

    Apparently Chell & Gordon visited same school.

    #8 3 years ago
  9. DoctorAgon

    I always wanted to be a scientist with crowbar or a woman being trolled by some robots. Thank you, Valve.

    #9 3 years ago
  10. osric90

    Please… Please Half-Life Episode Three and Half-Life COMPLETE EXPERIENCE for PS3.

    #10 3 years ago
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    #11 3 years ago

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