Bugs, glitches, syntax and logic errors. The definitions may differ, but when something happens in a game that isn’t supposed to be possible, the result is always the same: devious exploitation. Gaming Glitches are used for a variety of purposes running the gamut from goofing off to speedrunning, and I’ve compiled a list of my favorite gaming glitches so common that they can be performed in hundreds of different games. Despite being two different things, for the sake of familiarity, I’ll be using the terms “bug” and “glitch” interchangeably. Read on and enjoy.
5. Screwing with the graphics
So many games make it possible for the player to muck up the visuals. These can range from moving a character’s limbs around to giving the screen itself a pixelated heart attack. Graphical gaming glitches are, for the most part, utterly useless in terms of gameplay. But man, oh man, are they hilarious.
4. Item manipulation
Giving yourself more items involves practiced timing and knowing how the game’s code handles items. For example, turning useless items in Ocarina of Time into additional bottles versus item duplication in the old Pokemon games. These gaming glitches aren’t only useful, they’re interesting because they open the door to understanding the game’s underlying programming. Sort of like a Cheating 101 college course.
Unlike the previous two glitches in this list, here’s one you typically wish to avoid. Causing the game’s processes to stop altogether or to fail to proceed normally usually happen when either a certain sequence of events are broken or the game world becomes cluttered with more data than the system can handle. The only way out of a soft-lock is by resetting or, sometimes, quitting the game and returning to a menu or title screen. Hope you remembered to save…
2. Going out of bounds
What if I told you that within the fabric of reality, hidden in the cracks and seams that keep the world sewn together, there exists a void where the rules of logic do not apply? Stray too far out here, and you may find yourself unable to return. You may fall endlessly, never to feel the sensation of matter beneath your feet again. But if you’re lucky, perhaps you’ll discover something incredible. How far can you get before your game is over?
1. Wrong Warping/Arbitrary Code Execution
When you perform item manipulation, chances are you’re also performing a type of coding. Arbitrary code execution is the term used to describe an “attacker,” the player, in this case, gaining access to the game’s programming through assigning values to the wrong places in the code. The most useful application of this method is causing the player character to spawn in a place they wouldn’t ordinarily have access to at that time. Watching it happen in practice is almost as fascinating as knowing how and why it works.
And that’s a wrap. These bugs I’ve described can be found in a multitude of games, yet each instance is nearly always used for a similar purpose. Out of bounds and wrong warping, for example, to advance more quickly through the game. For those even remotely interested in knowing how games work, bugs are as irresistible as a bug light to… well, a bug. Look up your favorite games sometime and see just how broken they really are.
What do you think? What is some of the worse glitches you have seen in games? Let us know in the comments below!
Matt Eschbach is a PC, Mac and Android indie game developer and fiction writer. His works have won multiple monetary awards from various contests. Graduating college in 2012 with a major in Game Design, Matt spends his time making stuff up and then building it. His favorite hobby… is sleeping.