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"You think your job is bad? Well, your job IS bad."
―Grading Core[src]

Aperture Desk Job is a Valve-created tech demo set in the expanded universe of the Portal series. Similar to Aperture Hand Lab, it is designed to showcase a gaming control scheme, in this case Valve's Steam Deck device. It can also be played on a conventional gaming computer with a controller, however mouse-and-keyboard input is not supported beyond the game menu, and one part of the game

The game was released for free on March 1, 2022.


Desk Job Logo

Aperture Desk Job logo.

The player, an unnamed Desk Employee (Who is probably called Charlie) at Aperture Science, works under the auspices of Grady, a chatty personality core. During the player's first day on the job, a series of mishaps cause them to fill a malfunctioning toilet with bullets, which shoot out, damaging the workspace but giving Grady an idea.

Over the next several months and after several incidents, including a very long stint in jail (for the player, not for Grady), the player and Grady have come up with a completely new invention: a toilet turret. They bring it to the office of Cave Johnson, only to discover Johnson is now a giant robot head as part of his bid for immortality. Their attempt to shut off Johnson to put him out of his misery fails, and inadvertently leads to Johnson's giant sentient head sinking to the bottom of Aperture Science, but they manage to join a Witness Protection Program, and continue their jobs at Aperture Science inspecting toilets.



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  • Erik Wolpaw confirmed in response to a fan inquiry that Aperture Desk Job is not canon to the main Portal games, nor are any spin-offs such as The Lab and Aperture Hand Lab. The Steam store page for the game describes it rather as taking place within the Portal "expanded universe".[1]
    • The multiverse of Portal was explored in the Perpetual Testing Initiative DLC for Portal 2, anchored by an alternate universe version of Cave Johnson who has some key differences in his background that clarify it is not the Cave Johnson from the base game.
  • This game reuses some concepts from the cancelled F-STOP project, mainly its depiction of Aperture Science in the 70s as well as a giant chicken, which can be seen in the background of the opening scene.
  • The Cave Johnson reveal appears to reuse a concept and some dialogue originally scripted for Portal 2, where Chell and PotatOS would encounter Johnson's consciousness stored within a storage cube and end his suffering by shutting it off.[2] Dialogue for this cut scene still exists in the subtitle files for Portal 2, suggesting it was recorded, although the audio files have never been found. The basic idea of Cave Johnson being stored in a computer, and even killing some of his employees a la GLaDOS, was also played with in the Perpetual Testing Initiative.
  • After references in Portal 2, the Perpetual Testing Initiative, and even in LEGO Dimensions, the Mantis Men finally make an appearance in an official Valve game, here depicted as anthropomorphic mantises and in the form of one bobblehead outside Cave Johnson's office.
  • J.K. Simmons, who is a fully trained baritone and has performed on Broadway in the musical Guys and Dolls, provided not just Cave Johnson's speaking voice but also his singing in the final scene. According to Mike Morasky, he sight-read the song in a single pass.[3]
  • The game includes multiple references to the Valve game Team Fortress 2, including the toilet turret using the same noises as the turret from that game and the Mantis Men's society featuring "Manntis Co", a reference to Mann Co. from Team Fortress 2.
  • An ammunition crate box (with the icon changed into a explosive bullet) that bears a striking resemblance to those seen in Half-Life 2 and its episodes is visible in the opening elevator sequence.


  1. Erik Wolpaw's response to a fan email.
  2. "How Cave Johnson's talking head got cut from Portal 2." Engadget.
  3. Twitter favicon Mike Morasky on Twitter: "Watching Erik and Jay direct JK as Cave Johnson was a career highlight for sure. Like they’re born to it. “The lines read themselves” - JK Simmons. Btw, Mr. Simmons is also fully trained baritone and sight read the piece, riddled with timing changes and hemiola accompaniment."

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