“You know what’s glitching?”

Emergent digital literacies in video game play

Authored by: Edward Rivero , Kris D. Gutiérrez

The Routledge Handbook of Digital Literacies in Early Childhood

Print publication date:  July  2019
Online publication date:  July  2019

Print ISBN: 9781138303881
eBook ISBN: 9780203730638
Adobe ISBN:


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In this chapter we examined how glitching – a digital practice that arises in video game play – mediated the development of emergent digital literacies (Marsh et al. 2015) for Richard, an eight-year-old child. Glitching in video game play involves the identification of video game system errors, or glitches (Gee 2007; Consalvo 2009; Meades 2013), and appropriating them in ways that allow players to transform and expand how they participate within these games. Glitches arise in video games through software unpredictability or miscalculations made by game designers that cause a small malfunction in the game system. These system errors, or glitches, allow players to alter their game environments in ways that were not intended by the creators of these games. For example, players can exploit a glitch in a game system to make their avatars invisible, indestructible, or go through walls. Glitching is often leveraged by players to gain an unfair advantage over other players. As such, discourses on glitching as a destructive form of cheating have been articulated by video game corporations as a problem that needs to be eliminated (Meades 2013). However, our focus in this chapter shifts the gaze on glitching by centering the ingenuity (McDermott and Raley 2011) and resourcefulness children enact as they learn about this practice. Through this lens, we examined the emergent digital literacies that one eight-year-old child developed as he learned about glitching in video games within and across multiple digital platforms.

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