Sometimes I feel that video game glitches are more surprising and interesting than the video games themselves.
I've been trying to unpack this idea for a couple months. Surely my feelings stem from writing about video games for 40 hours a week, every week, every year for the past half decade. I confess that all of the AAA shooters and sports titles and action-adventure hybrids begin to blur together at a certain point; that the tropes and mechanics feel like a pool of shared ideas. And yes, sometimes I have to make a conscious effort to differentiate one uninspired shooter from another.
I don't think that's why I love glitches, though.
I believe, at least in terms of big budget gaming, we've been in an era of safety, an era built upon sequels and updates. So when we see a wild, unexpected glitch in an otherwise predictable franchise like Assassin's Creed, Madden or Super Smash Bros. it's a little shocking.
Glitches are often bizarre, humble and broken, which is to say glitches are everything mega budget games aspire not to be.
This logic isn't meant to deride big games. Many big games are spectacular in the way that vinegar plus baking soda experiment is spectacular. You know the recipe, you know what to expect and you never get tired of watching the explosive result. But a good glitch is like adding vinegar to baking soda and producing a watermelon. You don't want it every time, but holy cow how did this experiment make a watermelon?!
My point is, wow, the magical ever growing Yoshi from Super Smash Bros. on 3DS is a thing of beauty, and a reminder why I love video games and the fact that the are built atop a precarious collection of letters and numbers.
And I also think games are edging out of the age of safety, one game at a time. With the new generation, we're seeing developers take a few more risks again. The games are still big, violent adventures with proven names, but they're beginning to act a little weird and bolder.
This custom art is from my talented co-worker and colleague, Dylan Lathrop.