I define a glitch as a error in software which either allows to user to perceive the software in a manner outside the defined limits of the software. It can also be an error which temporarily enables the user to interact with the software in a manner outside the intended scope of the user. Glitches are not necessarily errors, for “[a]n error might produce a glitch but might not lead to a perceivable malfunction of a system,” but arise in edge cases (Goriunova and Alexei 111). They are logical deductions derived from the software or engine when manipulated in a particular way by the user or conditions in the state of the software. From an artistic perspective I agree with Menkman when she states glitches are “a wonderful interruption that shifts an object away from its ordinary form and discourse,” as they are sometimes more valuable than what the standard game can provide. (340).
When applied to the field of video games, we see examples of players perceiving the game environment or characters in a way that is abnormal and outside the original flow of the game. One example is in Minecraft with the “X-Ray Glitch”. According to the Minecraft Wiki on Gamepedia, the glitch occurs when “camera [is] inside a block, the game does not register that the player is inside [and] the player ‘x-rays’ through blocks immediately in front,” which provides the player more visibility than the game would normally allow. This allows the player to locate underground structures such as dungeons, mobs, previous ores, loot chest, and mineshafts. In the Nether it allows the player to find fortresses, ancient debris, and bastions; this allows players to “cheat” at the game’s theme of exploration in Survival mode. I like this glitch for it also has the benefit of allowing the player to enjoy aesthetics of winding tunnels and shapes hidden beyond the view of the player as it reminds me there is so much more to brave and explore in Minecraft.
Goriunova, Olga, and Alexei Shulgin. “Glitch.” Software Studies: a Lexicon, by Matthew Fuller, MIT, 2008, pp. 110–118.
Menkman, Rosa. “Glitch Studies Manifesto.” Video Vortex Reader II: Moving Images beyond YouTube, by Geert Lovink and Rachel Somers Miles, Institute of Network Cultures, 2011, pp. 336–347.
Minecraft Wiki Community. “Tutorials/X-Ray Glitches.” Minecraft Wiki, Fandom , 15 Feb. 2021, 5:22pm, minecraft.gamepedia.com/Tutorials/X-ray_glitches.