Retro-future Imperfect: Glitch and Ruin in Fallout 3


David Chandler

Document Type



Social Sciences

Publication Date


Course Date

Spring 2020

Course Number

Hon 250

Course Title

Honors Seminar II


In Half Real (2011), Jesper Juul refers to such affordances as 'rules' as they relate to traditional game theory, mostly to impose limitations on play and define the game with a set of specific instructions (Juul 2011: 57-59).1 Depending on the power of the engine, only certain actions are permissible, especially in a game as vast and detailed as Fallout 3. [...]of this grandiose scope, the game is riddled with glitches, most appearing unpredictably and causing the game to crash or character models to behave in strange ways. The game's openended design, however, incentivizes the same types of gameplay that test the game's limits, as Bogost and Krapp discuss, and with such a myriad of gameplay options, the player often discovers new glitches whenever she manipulates the game and strains its engine. Because these glitches appear in an environment strewn with defunct retro-future technologies and freakish character models, distinguishing between an intentional example of media distortion and an actual engine error becomes difficult (and at times, impossible). Nearly every person who plays the game encounters it differently due to its emergent play systems, distancing the game from its progressive-type franchise predecessors. Since quests can be completed in any order or even ignored completely, the player can actively resist the game's already openapproach to narrative design.


This resource is not publicly available. An ERAU log in is required for access.

To facilitate classroom use, publication dates reflect assignment dates. See the Recommended Citation for publication date.