Glitch Horror: BEN Drowned and the Fallibility of Technology in Game Fan Fiction


DiGRA '17 - Proceedings of the 2017 DiGRA International Conference
Melbourne, Australia: Digital Games Research Association, July, 2017
Number: 1
Volume: 14
ISBN / ISNN: ISSN 2342-9666

This paper seeks to define a burgeoning genre of transmedia narratives — “glitch horror” — using a popular “creepypasta” (a work of online horror fiction) entitled BEN Drowned as a primary source. The horror of BEN Drowned is rooted in the rhetoric of glitches, those infuriating moments when the failures of technology interrupt gameplay and otherwise distort the world of a game. The emergence of the glitch horror genre and the popularity of narratives like BEN Drowned are manifestations of collective anxieties surrounding the fallibility and restrictions of digital technology; it is fiction about the fear of glitchy games, corrupted files, and bad coding. The paper explores glitch horror through the lenses of fan fiction and participatory culture, metafiction, the Freudian uncanny, the fallibility of technology, and fundamental rules of gaming and play.