Why Glitches are Great - comradekoch Blog - www.GameInformer.com
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Why Glitches are Great

One of the most enduring aspects of a video game is one that isn't supposed to be there at all -- the glitch.

Glitches, or bugs, are simply mistakes overlooked by the games developers. Once discovered in today's age of hot-fix patches, a glitch never lasts very long before being corrected. It's a shame.

To be sure, many glitches are detrimental to the overall game playing experience. We've all encountered those rare bugs that cause you to fall through the ground, lose your saved progress or any number of odd happenings that can create setback after setback for players.

But for every game breaking glitch there are a slew of memorable, hilarious, or just plain fun glitches that somehow make an already stellar game even more charming.

Take The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim for a great example. Skyrim was a bug filled mess for several months after it's launch. Farmers with cloning problems, backward flying dragons, Skyrim hosted all this and more. However, when I finally saw my first backwards flying dragon, I couldn't help but smile.

Perhaps my favorite glitch in recent years appeared in the excellent Red Dead Redepmtion, an incredibly serious open-world western. For over a dozen hours I was immersed in the Wild West and the struggle of ex-outlaw John Marston as hunted down his one-time allies in order to save his family. One day I watched my brother play through the game. He was hunting mountain lions in the desert when out of nowhere a blue-faced woman, half sunken into the ground and moving at inhuman speeds, pounced and ripped out the throat of Marston's horse with a feral roar. My brother was quick to stand Marston up and shoulder his rifle, but it's hard to shoot a woman moving at cheetah-like speeds, especially when half of her body is submerged in the dirt. With a triumphant growl the grotesque creature knocked Marston down and killed him. For a moment my brother and I stared in disbelief.

A second later both of us were on the floor laughing. It was one of the funniest, most absurd things I've ever seen in a video game, and one of the most memorable parts of the epic of John Marston. It wasn't supposed to be there. Now, thanks to online patches, it isn't.

While playing or commenting on games we often bring up the word immersion. We say "The game world is immersive," or "I was fully immersed in the experience." Immersion is a good thing. Glitches and bugs however, are the enemy of immersion. They bring you out of an authentic experience yelling and screaming "I'm not supposed to be here, pay attention to me!" And pay attention we do. Many of us complain about being taken out of our digital fantasy, and those crazy and wacky moments are erased next patch when they are "fixed."

I'm here to say not all glitches need fixing. I think of these glitches, bugs, inaccessible areas, and broken mechanics more as the personality quirks of my favorite games rather than problems. They make a game somehow more unique, even more of a game in my mind. When I encounter them I'm reminded that what I'm playing is a video game. I'm not actually living in a Nordic fantasy world or partaking in a Wild West simulator. These flaws and blemishes are part of what make a video game, well, a video game. And in the end, you can't just hotfix that.

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