Trespassing in Videogames’ Secret Places


Getting to the end of a videogame is one thing, but getting outside one is a whole different ball game.

Despite all the effort that goes into making them, not every part of a videogame is meant to be seen. Tucked away in the code, supposedly hidden away where no one will find them, are bizarre “minus worlds,” filled with the glitches and ghosts. Naturally, gamers are fascinated by these forbidden spaces, and in Issue 289 of The Escapist, Brendan Main takes a look at what it is about them that we find so enthralling.

There is something delightfully Narnian about the thought of breaking the right block, or pushing on just the right wall tile, and falling through into another level … The rough corners that simply don’t fit within the game proper, that might otherwise be a part of discarded game design, are now a topic of tribute. Something about them speaks to us. So why are we so interested?

Part of it is our nature – we’ve been reared from the start to scour gaming landscapes for bombable walls and hidden doors, trained towards escapology so completely that occasionally we can even slip between seams of code and escape from the game itself. The very methods we’ve learned to explore the extent of our games also serves to undo them, one glitch at a time. There’s a certain pioneering excitement in entering a space outside of design and intention, or stumbling across a secret so secret it evaded even the developers.

There’s always been a thrill associated with being somewhere you shouldn’t, and that doesn’t go away just because the place in question doesn’t really exist. You can read more about it in Main’s article, “The Minus Touch.”

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