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For other uses, see Glitch (disambiguation).
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Microsoft Sam saying, "The quick brown fox jumps over the lazy dog 1,234,567,890 times", followed by a demonstration of a glitch that occurs when the letters SOI/SOY are inputted

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A glitch is a short-lived fault in a system. It is often used to describe a transient fault that corrects itself, and is therefore difficult to troubleshoot. The term is particularly common in the computing and electronics industries, and in circuit bending, as well as among players of video games, although it is applied to all types of systems including human organizations and nature.

The term derives from the German glitschig, means 'slippery', possibly entering English through the Yiddish term glitsh.[1][2]

Electronics glitch[edit]

An electronics glitch is an undesired transition that occurs before the signal settles to its intended value. In other words, glitch is an electrical pulse of short duration that is usually the result of a fault or design error, particularly in a digital circuit. For example, many electronic components, such as flip-flops, are triggered by a pulse that must not be shorter than a specified minimum duration; otherwise, the component may malfunction. A pulse shorter than the specified minimum is called a glitch. A related concept is the runt pulse, a pulse whose amplitude is smaller than the minimum level specified for correct operation, and a spike, a short pulse similar to a glitch but often caused by ringing or crosstalk. A glitch can occur in the presence of race condition in a poorly designed digital logic circuit.

Computer glitch[edit]

A computer glitch is the failure of a system, usually containing a computing device, to complete its functions or to perform them properly.

In public declarations, glitch is used to suggest a minor fault which will soon be rectified and is therefore used as a euphemism for a bug, which is a factual statement that a programming fault is to blame for a system failure.

It frequently refers to an error which is not detected at the time it occurs but shows up later in data errors or incorrect human decisions. While the fault is usually attributed to the computer hardware, this is often not the case since hardware failures rarely go undetected. Situations which are frequently called computer glitches are:

Such glitches could produce problems such as:

Examples of computer glitches causing disruption include an unexpected shutdown of a water filtration plant in New Canaan, 2010;[3] failures in the Computer Aided Dispatch system used by the police in Austin, resulting in unresponded 911 calls;[4] and an unexpected bit flip causing the Cassini spacecraft to enter "safe mode" in November 2010.[5]

Video game glitches[edit]

See also: Software bug

Glitches/bugs are software errors that can cause drastic problems within the code, and typically go unnoticed or unsolved during the production of said software. These errors can be game caused or otherwise exploited until a developer/development team repairs them. Complex software is rarely bug-free or otherwise free from errors upon first release.

Texture/model glitches are a kind of bug or other error that causes any specific model or texture to either become distorted or otherwise to not look as intended by the developers. Bethesda's The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim is notorious for texture glitches, among many other errors which affect most of their popular titles.[6] Many games that uses rag-doll physics in their character models in the modern era can have this happen to them. Another game that is known for its physical glitches is the Rocky boxing game for the PS2 where the bodies of the boxers are sometimes known to be morphed and distorted beyond recognition.[7]

Physics glitches are errors in a game's physics engine that causes a specific entity, be it a physics object or an NPC (Non-Player Character), to be unintentionally moved to some degree. These kinds of errors can be exploited, unlike many. The chance of a physics error happening can either be entirely random or accidentally caused. Once again, Bethesda's Skyrim and Fallout games are notorious for this glitch, as it can happen without warning and possibly result in the player being unable to start or complete certain quests due to the quest giver disappearing.[8]

Sound glitches are in which there is an error with the game's sound. These can range from sounds playing when not intended to play or even not playing at all. Occasionally, a certain sound will loop or otherwise the player will be given the option to continuously play the sound when not intended. Often, games will play sounds incorrectly due to corrupt data altering the values predefined in the code. Examples include, but are not limited to, extremely high or low pitched sounds, volume being mute or too high to understand, and also rarely even playing in reverse order/playing reversed.

The following are some examples of well-known[citation needed] glitches:

Glitches may include incorrectly displayed graphics, collision detection errors, game freezes/crashes, sound errors, and other issues. Graphical glitches are especially notorious in platforming games, where malformed textures can directly affect gameplay (for example, by displaying a ground texture where the code calls for an area that should damage the character, or by not displaying a wall texture where there should be one, resulting in an invisible wall.). Some glitches are potentially dangerous to the game's stored data.[10] In Batman: Arkham Asylum, during Scarecrow's final hallucination, the game purposely suffers a glitch before his nightmare begins.

"Glitching" is the practice of a player exploiting faults in a video game's programming to achieve tasks that give him an unfair advantage in the game, over NPC's or other players, such as running through walls or defying the game's physics.. Glitches can be deliberately induced in certain home video game consoles by manipulating the game medium, such as tilting a ROM cartridge to disconnect one or more connections along the edge connector and interrupt part of the flow of data between the cartridge and the console.[11] This can result in graphic, music, or gameplay errors. Doing this, however, carries the risk of crashing the game or even causing permanent damage to the game medium.[12]

Part of the quality assurance process (as performed by game testers for video games) is locating and reproducing glitches, and then compiling reports on the glitches to be fed back to the programmers so that they can repair the bugs. Certain games have a cloud-type system for updates to the software that usually repairs coding faults and other errors in the games.[10]

TV glitch[edit]

In broadcasting, a corrupted signal may glitch in the form of jagged lines on the screen, misplaced squares, static looking effects, freezing problems, or inverted colors. The glitches may affect the video and/or audio (usually audio dropout) or the transmission. These glitches may be caused by a variety of issues, interference from portable electronics or microwaves, damaged cables at the broadcasting center, or weather.[13]

Popular culture[edit]


Canadian Oxford lists it as a 20th-century word of unknown origin. Some reference books, including Random House's American Slang, claim it comes from the German word glitschen ("to slip") and the Yiddish word gletshn ("to slide or skid"). Either way it is a relatively new term. So new, in fact, that on July 23, 1965, Time Magazine felt it necessary to define it in an article: "Glitches—a spaceman's word for irritating disturbances." In relation to the reference by Time Magazine, the term has been believed to enter common usage during the American Space Race of the 1950s, where it was used to describe minor faults in the rocket hardware that were difficult to pinpoint.[1][2]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b "". Retrieved 2012-10-15. 
  2. ^ a b "Online Etymology Dictionary". Retrieved 2012-10-15. 
  3. ^ "Water filtration plant temporarily shut down due to computer glitch". December 6, 2010. Retrieved 2010-12-11. 
  4. ^ "911 computer glitch led to police delay". Austin News 15 November 2010. Retrieved 2010-12-11. 
  5. ^ "NASA revives Saturn probe, three weeks after glitch". 2010-11-24. Retrieved 2010-12-11. 
  6. ^ "Bethesda Criticised over buggy releases". 
  7. ^ "Game Glitches - Angry Video Game Nerd (YouTube video summarizing some well known video game glitches, including Rocky)". 
  8. ^ "Page containing all known Skyrim glitches". 
  9. ^
  10. ^ a b Ofoe, Emmanuel-Yvan; William Pare (March 06 - March 12.2008). "Testing, testing, testing". Montreal Mirror. Retrieved 2008-06-17. 
  11. ^ "It’s Not A Glitch. It’s A Feature. It’s Art. It’s Beautiful.". 
  12. ^ "Killing a Sega Genesis Cartridge (YouTube Video of a cartridge becoming permanently broken during the process of cartridge tilting)". 
  13. ^ "Signal Strength Variables". Retrieved 2012-05-17. 
  14. ^ Bibb, Porter (1976). CB Bible. New York: Doubleday and Company. p. 94. 
  15. ^ Doto, Bob (November 7, 2008). "NY Horror Film Fest Night 4: The Shorts". Retrieved March 3, 2011.