I love the Sociological Images blog. It's one of the blogs that inspired me to start blogging too; not that I have any (admitted :P ) pretensions to being as excellent a blogger as the Socimages team.
In a post about a news report about the bullying the player is subjected to in the game, I commented that I'm disapointed by Valve's (The original Portal was made by a small team that was absorbed into Valve early into the game's development) decision to have Chell wear what I consider to be high-tech desexualized high heels.
My comment (a reply to another person's):
I had thought that what I was talking about was completely self-evident. Apparently I'm completely wrong, which is fine.
My reasoning is that her long-fall boots look like high heels, Valve obviously put a lot of thought into different ways to make her footwear similar to high heels, that referencing the real world prosthetics that inspired aspects of the boots design only reinforces my points because those prosthetics serve to mimic the function of running normally i.e. not with a person's heels propped up.
The discussion has been dragged out to a surprising length, though I think it can be condenced down to two posts.
A user named 'Cee' posted
Not all of the opposing views were as nonsensical as Cee's; it you're interested you should definitely go read the entire discussion. I do want to address another inane ad hominid (here, it would only be a distraction there) though.
I posted a link to a character study with four different versions of Chell (already linked to above). In my initial post I stated that they are in a 'fashion-model' pose; very stupid of me. I'll maintain that's an obviously feminine pose; I have no problem with that and I later clarified that "On second thought: ‘fashion-model’ is an overstatement since posing that way simply allows for more details to be seen."
After which JDP responded
Simply moronic. It's not 'nitpicking' to discuss what is easily one of the most instantly noticeable features of a character, especially if its also what has become the one that is the most iconic after her gender (and the fact that she's an impressively non-stereotyped female player-character). Valve did an entire teaser-trailer about the boots.
More importantly it's the hypocrisy that is the reason I'm disappointed. GLaDOS does make a "patently absurd statement about medical degrees in fashion from France" and it's equally absurd that Chell couldn't have regular footing in her boots.
I love BloodRayne and Mortal Kombat (the newest MK is sssoooooo fun!) and am willing to roll my eyes at the hyper-heteronormative sexualization of the characters (male and female) because the games gleefully wallow in it and avoid all self-hypocrisy; I described MK as 'bloody sexy fun' in a post on Wired and I stand by that statement.
To summarize: I find it disappointing that, since they did such a good job avoiding or even head-on addressing most of the sexist tropes in video games, they went with this particular design; especially since if you look at the ‘real, useful design’ that was linked to above you’ll notice that it mimics the effect of running in regular shoes.
For the record: Portal and Portal 2 are amazing games that need to be played, and I think the way they portray Chell is brilliant. I'm just a bit disappointed by the footwear.
Trivial Update: Oh, in general I have no problem with ad hominids, vitriol, and childish name-calling; all things I regularly employ. The very first response (not reposted here, btw) to my original post, for example, is perfectly reasonable in tone and content.