Editor’s note: Ryan Smith is a longtime gamer and freelance writer who lives in Raleigh, NC. A graduate of East Carolina University with a degree in business and marketing, he has written in the past for WRAL Tech Wire and GameArgus.com. He currently plays Xbox 360 and PC as well as Nintendo DS. For story ideas, tips and feedback, he can be reached via e-mail (ryannicksmith@gmail.com)

RESEARCH TRIANGLE PARK, N.C.  - Portal, Valve’s award winning first-person puzzle shooter, is free on Steam until Sep. 20.

Originally released as part of The Orange Box back in 2007, then later as a stand-alone product on Steam and Xbox Live, over four million retail copies of Portal have been sold.

Portal is a first person game where you use what’s called a “handheld portal device” to shoot and create portals that you can walk through, in the process of solving a variety of puzzles to progress in the game. Winning multiple “Game of the Year” awards as well as a horde of others, there is no doubt to the cultural and design influence Portal has had in the gaming world.

As the gaming industry continues to boom, some people even recognize the potential video games have for learning or as a tool for higher learning as well. Portal teaches physics and critical thinking while also making it fun, which is why Valve has made their “Learn with Portals” program. (Watch a video here.)

“Using interactive tools like the Portal series to draw them in makes physics, math, logic, spatial reasoning, probability, and problem-solving interesting, cool, and fun which gets us one step closer to our goal—engaged, thoughtful kids” is part of their mission statement and in order to promote this new initiative, they have even made Portal free, at least until Sep.20, which is fine because as long as you download it via Steam before that period, it is yours to own forever.

Portal is free but if you want the more recent Portal 2, you’ve got to pay. Of course you can also still buy the Orange Box or the Portal combo pack featuring both Portal releases.

Around the Gaming World

Dragon Age 2 has announced their newest upcoming DLC, or downloadable content – the “Mark of the Assassin” pack. Starring “The Guild’s” Felicia Day as Tallis, an Elven Assassin as Hawke and Tallis team up to take on a fortress to steal a gem assuredly worth a fortune. This DLC shows promise, but usually I am quite skeptical of any DLC as typically the price far outweighs the playtime you get. But with an entire Orlesian fortress to explore it may be worth it, we won’t know for sure until it comes out on Oct 11.

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