Parent Angry over Adoption Joke in Portal 2

A North Carolina father has gotten his 5 – 10 minutes of fame by complaining about adoption jokes in Portal 2. Charlotte news channel WBTV indulges the complaining parent in a story that goes out of its way to malign one of the best games of 2011. According to the report, Neal Stapel was playing Portal 2 with his adopted daughter and enjoying it until jokes started to fly about one of the characters being adopted. Stapel found himself utterly offended. None of the other jokes and occasionally crude humor bothered him, apparently.

"It throws the question, the most ultimate question that that child is ever gonna have for you and it just throws it right in your living room," he said. "It says it’s rated "E" for everybody and I’m thinking maybe it’s rated "E" for everybody except for orphans."

The moment in the game he is speaking of is when one of the robot characters says to the protagonist: "Alright, fatty. Adopted fatty. Fatty, fatty no parents." Later (a fact excluded from the report) the character says that there is nothing wrong with being adopted.

Stapel said that most people won’t find the joke offensive unless they are adopted:

"If you’re not an adoptive parent it’s probably not that big a deal to you," he said. "If you are it’s literally the worst thing I could have probably heard."

"She’s sticking to her guns that she didn’t hear it," he added. "And to me, that message means she’s not ready to talk about it and I’m not gonna force it."

Which may prove a different point: people that are adopted aren’t as sensitive as parents that contact local news channels looking for a few fleeting moments of fame. At least the young girl from China can say she is adopted the next time her father makes a fool of himself on the local news..

Source: WBTV by way of Mendror and Cheater87.

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  1. hellfire7885 says:

    I’m with you there.

    The insults GLaDOS and Wheatley throw out are pretty much grade school insults.

  2. Deamian says:

    "It throws the question, the most ultimate question that that child is ever gonna have for you and it just throws it right in your living room,"


    Translation ; This game kinda put me in a situation where some parenting and/or parental care might be necessary. From me. Fuck Valve.

  3. rma2110 says:

    Instead of using the things said in the game to have a honest and open discussion with his daugther, he complains to the local news channel? Really? He seems like a great father and I don’t get why he is so freaked out this. I’m sure the kid has already heard worse than "fatty. Adopted fatty. Fatty, fatty no parents" in school.

    The game makes it clear that the teasing Chell recives is unjustified and mean. Chell is a hero and the fact that she is adopted just make being adopted cool. I can’t wait for someone to take offense at the fat jokes.

  4. SpiralGray says:

    Perhaps a law should be passed whenever one of these publicity-seeking people come out of the woodwork… you must agree to have your email listed in the story. Maybe that would encourage a few of them to keep their opinions to themselves. 

  5. Monte says:

    Actually with an E10 rating, it actually is a game that is exceptable for kids, including younger kids when they are playing with their parents

  6. hellfire7885 says:

    Portal 2 is rated E for EVERYONE and all of GLaDOS’ insults are very childish ones.

    I mean I’ve heard little kids arguing and calling each other adopted before.

  7. Nerd42 says:

    Portal 2 is a great game.




    Don’t play Portal 2 with your daughter in the first place. Play Mario Bros or Kirby or somethin. Duh. And don’t complain when a grownup game says some non-obscene but grownup things.

  8. SimonBob says:

    At least the young girl from China can say she is adopted the next time her father makes a fool of himself on the local news..

    Wow.  Editorial slant, much?  Tell us how you really feel, GP.


  9. hellfire7885 says:

    So where was he when every single RPG that mentioned orphaned characters came out? And the movie Orphan?

  10. Neeneko says:


    Though now I am wondering… what would reactions to be if another group had been insulted.








    Little furry creatures from alpha centarui?



    I think there is always an ongoing disucssion about what jokes are appropriate in a game and which are not, and which groups have enough public support behind them for such jokes to be removed completely even if they are coming from a character where it is clear the joke is not a ‘good’ thing.

  11. black manta says:

    *headdesk* Yeah, I saw this earlier today.  So now what?  Does this mean developers now should eliminate any references to adopted children out of concern it could possibly offend them?  "Daddy!  The game called me a mean word!"  Sheesh!  Get a grip.

    Look, the world can be a mean place sometimes.  It’s not always going to be nice.  Better the kid learns that now through fantasy or an imaginary context before they’re confronted with it in real life.  There’s always been this ongoing campaign to eliminate anything potentially disturbing or violent from kids entertainment out of fear it will "desensitize" them.  But then when something like a 9/11 happens, it’s even more difficult because they don’t have any other way to process it.  When I was a little kid, I was scared out of my wits by things like the Wicked Witch of the West in "The Wizard of Oz" or Bambi’s mom getting killed.  And yeah, it was frightening.  But I think being exposed to those things then helped me deal with real world fear later in life.  So the dad here needs to get off his high horse and learn he can’t protect his kid from everything, and it’s better she gets it now.  because the longer you put off having to address the issue (as he seems to wants to do), the more idfficult it will actually become later.

  12. beemoh says:

    I’m just going to repost what I said on CVG:

    The worst thing is that there’s a lot to like about this story, which makes how he screws it at the end all the worse.

    What we’re looking at here is a parent who is playing games with their children- that never happens in these stories.
    Another one, they’ve actually looked at the ratings. Again, something that never happens.
    And, if we can be a bit more subjective about the issue, they’re actually playing a good game, rather than going "Ooh, Call of Duty seems popular, let’s get that!"

    My problems are that he can only have come to the conclusions that he has by failing to understand the story altogether.

    Firstly: why that joke and not earlier ones, like the phonecall one referenced upthread?

    Secondly: the whole reason Chell’s status as an orphan even comes up in dialogue is because a running theme through both Portal games is GLaDOS finding every possible opportunity to denigrate Chell, one thread of which is about how unpleasant and unlovable Chell is- the point here isn’t to mock Chell for being an orphan, but to mock her for being so rubbish as a person that even her parents don’t want her.

    Even though Chell’s parentage is never explicitly mentioned in either game beyond GLaDOS’ conjecture, and even then there is the implication that her parents are still around, as other test subjects- then it’s still a shot at Chell as an individual rather than Chell’s status as an orphan.

    Thirdly: The reason the insult in the clip is so blunt is because it’s coming from Wheatley- a character whose main point is that he’s a total moron. The best he’s going to come up with, having replaced GLaDOS as the all-seeing AI is going to be "fatty fatty no-parents" because he isn’t as erudite or subtle as GLaDOS. Anything he says isn’t going to have the depth and subtext of his predecessor and is only capable of superficial imitations thereof- it’s about how stupid Wheatley is, not how bad being adopted is.

    There are other things that Mr. Stapel and the news programme gets wrong, (for one: if you want to keep a question out of the living room, don’t put it on the television) but I’m going to overlook those for the time being, because the meat of what’s wrong with this story, or at least what’s wrong and relevant to this website, is that above.

    What I will do instead, is steal the comment "Hm" made on WBTV’s website: In the first game, GLaDOS loved and adored orphans, and she made shoes for them. But then you ripped off that part of her and threw it into a fire. Nice job breaking it, hero.

  13. Parallax Abstraction says:

    It’s a good thing that no one has any kind of legal right not to be offended. Not that it will stop them trying.

    Parallax Abstraction
    Ottawa, Ontario, Canada

  14. NecroSen says:

    Guy’s not angry, he’s just unjustifiably scared of talking to his daughter about her being adopted. Or perhaps really, really reaching for something to take offense to, just to get his name in the news.

    It’s like Harvey Dent in The Dark Knight: being that good just makes some people try extra hard to find your flaws. Portal 2 is so well done – my opinion, of course, but one I think most people share – that for someone to be offended by anything in the game requires a sensitivity so incredibly specific as to be just insane.

    Oh, and nice research by this news station. "WBTV contacted Sony, who distributes the game. They told us to contact Valve, the company that actually created the game. We did, and have not heard back from them."

    Really? Besides it being the PS3 version of the game, who would possibly think that Sony is distributing it? They should have contacted Microsoft, obviously! 

  15. Samster says:

    "It says it’s rated "E" for everybody and I’m thinking maybe it’s rated "E" for everybody except for orphans."

    Really? Really?

    Oh angry parents. You just keep on giving.

  16. Neeneko says:

    I applaud the guy for adopting, and for being so engaged in his kid’s life and interactions with video games…. but I think wanting to insulate the child from the meme is not a good idea.  The taunting in the game is not presented as a positive thing…. removing such content would essentially involve removing teasing from games and other media as a character trait entirely… which goes down a nasty slope since it could be extended to removing characters with bad traits in general, or simply remove evil from media… which I really do not think is good for anyone.

  17. lordlundar says:

    Well, given how pointed the insults were and that (in plot anyway) they were meant to get a rise out of the character to force mistakes and such, it was only a matter of time until someone was offended.

  18. Magic says:

    What a load of nonsense.

    "If you are it’s literally the worst thing I could have probably heard."

    He clearly musn’t get out much. What does he want, no one to make ANY sort of remotely offensive joke ever?

    And didn’t Glados insult the player in Portal 1 in frustration by saying they were adopted?

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