In my flowery ring binder of Pokémon Red and Blue cheats, there was one set of instructions that spoke to my eight-year-old self most of all. I'd heard from friends (and many, many GeoCities pages) that 'the MissingNo cheat' could destroy your game—but it could also get you unlimited Rare Candy. This seemed like a fair trade to me.
The first Pokémon games for the Game Boy included 151 Pokémon (including the ultra-rare Mew, if your parents were long-suffering enough to drive you to one of the Nintendo promo events where it was distributed). But by following a seemingly random series of steps, players could encounter a 152nd Pokémon, MissingNo (Missing Number), which took the form of an L-shaped block of pixels.
The utter strangeness of MissingNo fascinated me, my childhood friends, and a bunch of other kids on the Internet at the time. But what I didn’t know then was that it would eventually also catch the interest of sociologists, who were intrigued by the mythology players had created around the Pokémon and the way that the glitch changed our relationship to the games.