Chell facing GLaDOS in Portal 2.

What If GLaDOS From ‘Portal’ Were the TikTok Text-to-Speech Voice?

"Watch Neurotoxin invade your lungs! Wow! Girlboss Moment!"

If you’ve been on Instagram at all in the past year, scrolling down your “For You” page, you’ve probably heard a very distinct voice yakking over videos of puppies, or baking, or rich teenagers trying to convince us that they just invented elote. The “TikTok Lady Voice” is something of a plague on our eardrums that follows me wherever I go. I sit down on the toilet and hear her narrating my observations about the bathroom. I go to bed and hear her narrate my most embarrassing middle school experiences. Hell, I feed my dogs and hear, “WatCh mOMmY fEed baBIEs!”

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Now, in a twist of brilliant irony, she’s apparently taken over the most devious form of AI ever seen in gaming: GLaDOS from Portal. This mod has truly, and literally, changed the game.

I want to say that I hate this, but in a twisted sort of way, it’s brilliant. If GLaDOS were a modern robot and had access to the internet, she’d know fully well how noxious that TikTok voice is. So why wouldn’t she use it? Why wouldn’t she modify her voice to be as grating as possible, for the testing?

After all, the whole point of Portal is testing the extent of one’s logic, while trying to put all emotion aside. GLaDOS is a petty and vindictive AI who steadily grows even more vicious as her “relationship” with Chell develops into something (neuro)toxic. And ultimately, I think what helps sell her character, and keeps fans from hating her to the point of complete apathy, is how her voice is structured from the unique talents of her voice actor, Ellen McLain.

Therefore, I can’t help but wonder: What would the game be like if we didn’t have that level of compassion for her? If that level of humanity was removed? If Caroline—the personality she was based on—was rendered null in the face of … TikTok Lady Voice?

Part of why I enjoyed the Portal series so much is because of the unique relationships between growing AIs, and your silent protagonist, Chell. Yes, the puzzles were also fun, but I can play puzzle games on the NYT website any day if that were all I wanted. What makes the game so juicy is your desperation to escape from this murderous house of dangerous machines, while also starting to feel some sort of sympathy and connection with the machine who’s pulling the strings. Even if you hate her, you can’t help but find that GLaDOS is compelling.

Strip all that away, though, and you’re basically in a never-ending hell with no reprieve, no sign of life, no hope, no consolations at all. What little humanity is found in GLaDOS’ taunting voice is replaced by the cold, unfeeling replication of jargon that is TikTok Lady Voice. Jesus. Even thinking about it makes me want to vomit.

If this sort of fresh hell sounds just like the sort of thing you want to get your hands on, you can download the mod here:

Oh my god, I didn’t even realize the companion cores were TikTok Lady Voiced, too. AHHHH. HELLWORLD!!!

(featured image: Valve)

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Madeline Carpou
Madeline (she/her) is a staff writer with a focus on AANHPI and mixed-race representation. She enjoys covering a wide variety of topics, but her primary beats are music and gaming. Her journey into digital media began in college, primarily regarding audio: in 2018, she started producing her own music, which helped her secure a radio show and co-produce a local history podcast through 2019 and 2020. After graduating from UC Santa Cruz summa cum laude, her focus shifted to digital writing, where she's happy to say her History degree has certainly come in handy! When she's not working, she enjoys taking long walks, playing the guitar, and writing her own little stories (which may or may not ever see the light of day).