Every profession has its Achilles heel, a weakness of sorts. Bearded sailors don’t get along with storms and china shop owners wouldn’t like a bull to go shopping in their store. Even the gaming industry has its weaknesses. No, we’re not talking about gamers that can’t distinguish real life from its virtual counterpart and do incredibly stupid things in the process. I’m talking about one of the biggest fears any gamer can experience: bugs.
Bugs, or errors in a game, can be found in many shapes and sizes. They range from minor flaws in the appearance of a poster to gaping holes in the middle of a level. The size and the number of glitches depend on several factors: Did a team make it, or was it an individual, did they have enough time to make it, was the software they used adequate? But no matter how you look at it, bugs are mistakes that a developer wants to avoid at all costs. Some developers go as far as branding mistakes by calling them ‘features’. This made the money that disappeared from sim-games a lot more acceptable, and other bugs became internet jokes or ‘memes’. A good example is the “I’m below your base” scenario from Team Fortress 2.
Bugs aren’t always a bad thing though; several times during Knights Of The Old Republic I got teleported to the end of the level for no obvious reason, saving me a lot of time and effort. Sometimes these errors can be downright hilarious like the “truck of death” from Left 4 Dead. Once you crawled underneath the truck you’d die in the blink of an eye and your ragdoll would be tossed around as if it were possessed by a demon with ADHD.
Why not talk about the games that have such big problems that we wish we had never bought them? I’m talking about games that destroy your console, PC or memory card. A good example is a game called Pool Of Radiance: Ruins Of Myth, a game so bad that after five minutes you felt an irresistible urge to banish it from your computer forever. During the uninstall procedure you would notice that windows freezes and after further inspection you find out that windows has been removed from your PC by the notorious game. Lucky for us, games that do any damage are limited in numbers
While there is a big variety of bugs, there is an even greater variety in how people cope with these errors. Most of us just laugh them of and continue to play the game. Some take screenshots or create a video and post it on YouTube, for others to laugh at. Then there’s the frustrated gamer that spew hateful messages about a buggy game on just about any forum imaginable; even though the bug was tiny and not worth mentioning. But let us not forget the people that make us laugh most, the ragequitters and the aggressive gamers. A lot of you know “The Angry German Kid”, a clip about a young German boy losing his marbles because his PC doesn’t boot fast enough and because he’s experiencing some lag on the game he’s playing. Sadly enough this is not uncommon and the Internet is filled with videos of people throwing consoles out of windows, wrecking their screens, using their head as a battering ram and people punching walls until their fists bleed.
How do these bugs end up in videogames you ask? Well, that’s quite simple. A developer works on their game until they achieve all the goals they had in mind, then they allow for testers to scour the entire game for bugs. After some ironing, the entire game should be perfect. However, it is not uncommon for an error to slip through. This can happen because they didn’t pay close enough attention, their testers did a lousy job or they didn’t have any at all or the bug itself is just so rare that they never found it before. I can understand if a developer misses an error here and there just because they are so rare. But I can never forgive a developer for not testing the game at all. There is a game called Bubble Bobble: Revolution that promised 100 levels but after level 31 simply stopped. The creators promised to fix the bug, but to this many gamers are annoyed by the fact that their DS game just stops at level 31
We don’t just notice these flaws in our games, some gamers use them to their advantage, we call this kind of bug “exploits”. Earlier I was talking about how you could get underneath the enemy base in Team Fortress 2 to then greet them to a hail of bullets, rockets and all sorts of profanity. In Half-Life you could take a shortcut by hoping on some strategically placed mines and in Pokémon you had MissingNo where if you beat him, the sixth object in your backpack would be multiplied. In online games this causes a lot of problems, losing match after match isn’t fun when you know that they’re cheating because of a flaw in the game. It does make beating them the more rewarding even though you know they have a major advantage on you.
We can’t live without bugs, some games are so bad that only the bugs give us some joy while finding flaws in other games is downright hilarious. We should look at these errors from a different point of view, and we all grew up with the saying “shit happens”. We can all learn to live with these bugs and send the developer a kind but constructive e-mail or we can just resort to chucking our consoles and PC’s out of the window. Either way the flaws in our games are here to stay and we should all make the best out of it, they are connected to our games like a sunburn is connected to a hot summers day.Are Bugs Good Or Bad For Gamers?,