Video games take hours and hours of coding. Every single moving part has to line up perfectly, timing is everything, and you could even say a level of faith is involved to make everything work. They are like digital Rube Goldberg machines. If one part goes wrong, all sorts of havoc can break loose. Those are the times when we see glitches of all shapes and sizes. Sometimes, they can be minor, like a certain object appearing sideways on a table that should have otherwise been vertical. Other times, they are much more noticeable, like a character’s facial features falling away or other body parts appearing smaller or larger than normal. Glitches are nothing new. What has seemed to change are the reactions to them.
I can recall finding glitches in the early days of my gaming career. Some were as nasty as my save file corrupting in Mole Mania . Others were as basic as finding myself glitched into a wall in The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time . The latter instance was weird looking, but didn’t dampen my experience with the game. The former were obviously more of an issue, but they happened so few and far between that I actually struggled to come up with an example. More modern glitches included character’s heads disappearing, leaving behind stumps, in some visual novel games. I’ve had some NPC characters fail to do what they were supposed to do in adventure games, preventing me from progressing through a puzzle. There have also been the vast, seemingly endless sea of visual glitches in RPGs that I’ve swum through, just like everyone else.
The point is, glitches are everywhere. They’re in every genre, and they vary in severity. With the amount of things working together to make our favorite video games run, we have to have some level of understanding. These things will happen. If they’re simple visual ticks that work themselves out or that the developer patches somewhere along the way, it’s okay. It’s fine to be annoyed, but we should also temper that with the acceptance that these things happen. I can remember when I was first playing one of my favorite adventure games, and there was a glitch which made the character’s eyes bloom out with a lighting effect gone wild. It was annoying, sure, but eventually it was patched and I was able to enjoy the rest of the game with characters that had normal peepers. The bright eyes glitch didn’t detract from the amazing story.
Yet, there are many who see glitches in their next anticipated title and feel that they should throw in the towel immediately. “How could this happen?!” they cry, as they toss the game back at the person who sold it to them. “This game should run perfectly 1,000% of the time!” they yell as the game sits on their shelves, while the anger revolving around it festers into a disgusting fervor. Still others see the glitches in games and enjoy the hilarity surrounding them. The best example that most will be familiar with is Roach from The Witcher franchise. That darned horse can’t seem to get anything right, yet we love it.
So why is it that there are some games where it is perfectly acceptable and hilarious to see glitches, while others it is world-ending? I’m not saying that we should be okay with something like the constant horrifying melted faces and insane hair in the original Assassin’s Creed: Unity . I’m pretty sure we all agree that was a terrible mess. Same with the dead eyes in Mass Effect: Andromeda , as that was just unfortunate. But some minor visual glitches in Far Cry 5 should be just as acceptable as those in God of War or any other title.
So long as the developers do their best to fix problems via patches, we should just understand that they are a part of the medium. Sometimes they’re annoying, but plenty of times these glitches are hilarious! So let’s just remember that despite their issues, video games are about having fun, glitches and all.