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It’s not a bug, it’s a feature

In software, a bug is a system behaving in a way that is unpredictable, or just not part of what the designer wanted.

According to legend, the first bug was actually a bug, that was found inside of a circuit board and caused the system to fail.

A running joke between programmers is that a given fault is not really a bug, but rather a feature. In this article, we list some examples of unusual features that came out of mistakes.

1. Street fighter ‘combo’

Photo: Gamerscore Blog @Flickr

It is hard nowadays to imagine a fighting game without ‘combos’, but this game-changing feature was actually originally a bug. The bug was noticed during development, when punching the enemy twice was considered one attack by the game. The designers decided it was a cool addition to their game, and so ‘combos’ were born.

2. Gmail’s ‘unsend’ feature

Photo: gabrielle_cc @pixabay

The 5-second yellow box that appears when you send an email giving you the last chance to stop the email from being sent was actually a bug.

3. Space invaders enemies increasing speed

Photo: sergeitokmakov @pixabay

The growing panic as the alien craft gradually accelerate towards you is a well-known feeling to fans of old-school arcade games. But a game that progresses to get harder and harder was not in the mind of space invaders creators when they built the game, and was actually produced by accident. When there were fewer enemies, the game processor was able to move them faster because there were fewer objects to move around.

4. Minecraft creeper

Photo: mdherren @pixabay

The infamous enemy character was a mistake. At least now we know that the designers didn’t intend to create a homewrecker. The original design was supposed to be a pig, but during design the height and width were mixed up, and the creeper monstrosity was created.

5. The ‘Corrupted Blood Spell’ from World of Warcraft

BagoGames @flickr

World of Warcraft is one of the most popular online games in history. Now in its 15th year, the game has witnessed many changes. One of the most dramatic changes was an infectious spell, that was meant to disappear after a while, but was found after release to stick around and start spreading between players and animals. This created a virtual pandemic, where infected players had to quarantine and cities were isolated.

This virtual pandemic then caught the attention of scientists, as the game modelled real-life infectious viruses very accurately, and it aided research on how to control infectious diseases in the real world. Maybe Boris Johnson should be playing more video games?

These examples have a very real role to play in teaching us to recognise the importance of flexible thinking. This week, if you make a mistake in your essay or research, why not try thinking about how adapting it could actually help you improve?

Tags: bugs, computer sciene, Games, Minecraft, programming, street fighter

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