Let’s talk about Doug Rattmann for a minute.
Or rather, let me rant about much I love Doug Rattmann for quite a few minutes.
Probably being my favourite character in the entire Portal franchise, Doug Rattmann really means a lot to me in a lot of ways.
First off: the way he’s portrayed. It’s become more common lately to have characters in media with canon mental illnesses and not shown in negative lights, but it’s still a lot harder to find ones with a psychosis type illness. When do you see characters like that, they’re usually depicted as crazy, mega-psychopaths, or either not actually having an illness at all and just actually magical powers or connection to some other world or any other fantasy-related stuff.
But his character isn’t written like that and that makes me incredibly happy. It’s stated, very clearly and multiple times, that he has schizophrenia, but it isn’t made into some horrific monstrous thing. It’s just a part of his character, and in its own way was shown to be very useful to him, in the case of Cube at least. And before BYDTWD you see Doug as a fairly normal person, albeit still pretty reserved and uncertain, but working in Aperture Science would make anyone appear more on edge than necessary. Anyone with half a brain, at least. Even after that when he does appear more, well, let’s be honest completely unhinged, it’s half to blame because he watched all of his coworkers get murdered and was hunted down by a homicidal computer. Paranoia or not, that would make anyone lose a little of their sanity.
And he’s never shown as a threatening character. Quite the opposite, actually. He’s depicted as almost skittish and fearful, and actually is a huge ally to our protagonist. All around, Valve did a really good job at writing a character with a stereotypically scary mental illness and not turning that character into something scary at all.
That means a lot to me, personally, because this is a character that I can somewhat relate to. Discovering that I possibly have some mild form of psychosis myself, seeing a character with similar, albeit far more intense, symptoms of something incredibly scary has been a huge comfort to me. Because if someone like that can be shown in a very positive light, and well liked by almost every Portal fan out there, then I shouldn’t have to be too scared about my future and what could possibly happen to me later on.
TL:DR Doug Rattmann is so important.