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Aperture Desk Job

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The subject matter of this article does not take place in the "real" Half-Life and Portal universe and is considered non-canon.

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Aperture Desk Job


Release date(s)

March 1, 2022


Technology demonstration




Steam Deck, Windows, Linux




Steam Deck, Controller


Source 2




Mike Morasky

"You think your job's bad? I mean... Your job is bad."

Aperture Desk Job is a technology demo developed by Valve designed to showcase the Steam Deck's capabilities and controls. It was released for free on March 1, 2022.[1][2]


Set in the Portal universe, Aperture Desk Job is described as a playable short that takes place with the player remaining sat behind a desk for the entire experience. Gameplay consists of following the control prompts provided while at the desk, each scene offering unique interactions as the events unfold throughout the facility. The game requires a controller to play since keyboard and mouse input isn't supported.


The game takes place over the course of eight chapters with months often passing by in the storyline between each transition. It follows an unnamed protagonist under the employment of Aperture Science as a Product Inspector, accompanied by a Personality Construct named Grady. Eventually, an accident occurs in which a toilet is loaded with bullets and flushed, which inspires Grady to develop Turret toilets that are implied to have later evolved into Sentry Turrets. The protagonist mans one of the Toilet Turrets and accidentally destroys a warehouse, leading to their imprisonment. Grady re-appears to reveal to the protagonist that he is their new parole officer, and the protagonist is let out on supervised release. Grady brings the player up to the office of Aperture Science CEO Cave Johnson to showcase their "toilet turret" invention. Entering the office, Grady remarks that no one had seen Cave in quite some time. It is then revealed that Cave is dead, but that his consciousness has been transferred into a large computer encased in an enormous replica model of his head. Cave Johnson's AI is impressed with the Toilet turrets, but instructs the player and Grady to use one to kill him. After the bullets prove ineffective at destroying the Cave Johnson AI, Grady and the protagonist instead opt to unplug him from his power source, though this fails as well as the facility's backup power supply initiates. The final sequence features Cave's AI head falling through the floor through many levels of the facility, before eventually stabilizing in a room full of other turrets and delivering a musical Requiem.

Occurring concurrently with the main plot is a side story involving a praying mantis colony that lives in the floorboards. They're frequently seen during the transitions between chapters. The mantises first accidentally discover electricity by plugging in a light bulb, after which their technology advances rapidly as they undergo an industrial revolution. They go from a Victorian era society to a futuristic metropolis powered by a glowing reactor core of their own creation. However, after Cave's head collapses through the floors of the facility, the mantis city is also caught in the destruction, nearly wiping out their entire civilization. Their core ends up powering the turret Requiem during the ending credits. This mantis-related plot could be an indirect allusion to the series' continued Mantis Men joke that began in Portal 2.


Behind the scenes[edit]

Aperture Desk Job revived some concepts that had been cut or unrealized from previous Portal titles. The notion of Cave's consciousness being transferred into a computer and then later asking the player to end his life was initially conceived and scripted for Portal 2.[3] The general 1970s aesthetic of the facility as well as the giant chicken specifically were carried over from F-STOP.

Music designer Mike Morasky recorded the destruction of real toilets for the game audio.[4]

The ending Requiem of the game, despite it being "riddled with timing changes and hemiola accompaniment", was sight-read by J.K. Simmons himself, who is a fully trained baritone singer.[5]



  1. Steampowered favicon.png Aperture Desk Job on Steam
  2. YouTube favicon.png Official trailer on YouTube
  3. Valve Almost Let You Kill Cave Johnson on Kotaku
  4. Twitter favicon.png Tweet: "No toilets were harmed in the making of this game" @MikeMorasky (Mike Morasky) on Twitter (March 4, 2022)
  5. Twitter favicon.png Tweet: "Mr. Simmons is also fully trained baritone and sight read the piece, riddled with timing changes and hemiola accompaniment" @mikemorasky (Mike Morasky) on Twitter (March 2, 2022)

External links[edit]