Bethesda’s Fallout 4 has received a number of criticisms for its morality system–or rather, its lack thereof. One of the staple features of previous releases in the Fallout series, “karma” (a measurement of morally good vs morally bad decisions) required a sort of moral engagement with the world of the game.
This is the second part of a discussion on glitches, black bodies, and social justice movements. You can find Side A here.
Glitches have traditionally been viewed as an error, a problem in need of fixing. As Olga Goriunova and Alexei Shulgin write, “…a glitch is a short-term deviation from a correct value…The outcome of a glitch is not predictable. When applied to software…a glitch is an unpredictable change in the system’s behavior, when something obviously goes wrong” (emphasis their own). Oftentimes, the word is accompanied by choice phrases that express complete and total frustration when, inevitably, a computer freezes and your work is lost.
For the purposes of their argument, Goriunova and Shulgin’s decision to simplify “glitch” and use it as a means to signify “error,” makes much sense. In fact, in many cases, a glitch truly only is ever seen as an error (take a TV screen glitch or a glitch in an electronic system’s hardware, endlessly frustrating experiences for both the individual trying to use the system and the individual charged with fixing the problem). However, in defining a glitch solely as an error, Goriunova and Shulgin in fact miss the nuances that come into being when one attempts to define what the term “glitch” refers to in the modern digital space, particularly in terms of digital games.
This past January, I taught a week-long January term course entitled “Winners Don’t Smash Buttons: A Video Game Practicum.” This blog post is a summary of what happened over the course of the week; if you’re interested in reading a digital essay on the experience, the course website (gaming.5colldh.org) explores issues of death, reincarnation, play, and so much more. Course syllabus is available here.
My default position when it comes to the internet is that of a pur(sur)veyor.
Purveyor because I engage with the internet as an interface through which I can spread and promotes ideas, while also (metaphorically and literally) buy into the “goods” that others are selling. Surveyor because god-complexing is hard to avoid when it can oftentimes seem as if we can jump in and out of the world wide web and effect some change regardless of time, place, or physical/racial/gender limitations. Pursurveyor because I think I do a great job at persevering through the act of being on the internet–or any metaphysical space occupied by White Dudes.