You may have heard the term Easter Egg in relation to video games, and wondered what people were talking about. Most games are, after all, not very Easter themed in any way. Unless we’re talking about specifically Easter themed slots games of course!
Easter Eggs refer to a secret in a game, normally hidden out of the way, and requiring exploration and a bit of persistence to find. Some can even be extremely difficult to locate, and have gained a sort of legendary status for this reason.
In most cases Easter Eggs are simply a way to add a layer of fun to a game, and allow curious players to reward their exploration. In other cases, however, Easter Eggs are used as a way to give a game a mythical status, create a buzz, or even shock players. Let’s take a closer a look at Easter Eggs in video games, and learn more.
Early Easter Eggs
In the early days of video games, things like Easter Eggs were strictly forbidden. Game developers were not allowed to insert anything into a game that was not specifically to do with the central themes of the game. This all changed, however, with the now infamous game titled Adventure, released in 1979. The developer of the game was Warren Robinett, who worked for Atari at the time. He and many other Atari employees were upset about the practice of Atari to not credit developers. Atari had this policy, according to them, in order to avoid their programmers being identified and lured away by other companies.
Annoyed with the policy, and looking for a way to defy it, Warren decided to sneak credit for his work into the game. But, so as to escape condemnation from Atari, he decided to hide his name as a secret, revealed only if players underwent a certain specific set of actions. Upon being discovered the secret became legendary, and many started to buy the game simply to uncover what seemed like a mysterious and strange thing at the time. Upon seeing the success this granted the game, other companies began to include their own Easter Eggs. And thus a culture of secrets in video games was born.
Stranger And Stranger
As the years went on, and Easter Eggs became standard practice, developers began to introduce unique Easter Eggs, often strange, as a means to stand apart and gain attention. In the now legendary shooter Doom, one of the major designers, John Romero, put a digitised version of his own face hidden inside the last enemy of the game. Upon finding the Easter Egg a voice speaks strange words, which when reversed are a message that says “To win this game, you must kill me, John Romero.” The Easter Egg became notorious, and extremely controversial, given that the final boss of the game in which Romero’s face is hidden has strikingly Satanic imagery. The creators of the Doom were quick to say, however, that any satanic imagery used was only in the spirit of making an interesting game.
Later, in 1996, the game Duke Nukem 3D went well beyond in the Easter Eggs department, with a number of fun and interesting secrets to be found over the course of the game. The game was itself controversial for various reasons, including that it featured swearing, nudity, and immense amounts of violence. It was the Easter Eggs in the game, however, that won it the most attention. One notable Easter Egg allowed players to find the character from Doom, strung up and dismembered. Upon finding the Easter Egg Duke Nukem announced; “That’s one Doomed space marine.” The Easter Egg was a tongue in cheek reference to the fact that Duke Nukem 3D was taking over in terms of popularity, as far as video games were concerned.
Modern Easter Eggs
The tradition of Easter Eggs has remained popular into modern times, and virtually all video games release with some sort of hidden secret. Even major software developers, including Microsoft, had a number of Easter Eggs in early versions of the Windows operating system. In Windows 95 a notorious Easter Egg allowed users to walk virtually through a hall, with the names of the software team scrawled on the walls. This was in reference to the fact that the version of Windows had been marketed as supporting Doom, which was more popular than Windows at that time.
One modern game industry that has been largely Easter Egg free is the online casino industry, even though there are dozens of games released yearly. This is because online casino games work under a strict policy, requiring all software used to create a digital casino game following strict regulations. Since an Easter Egg is not part of the core programming used to create the game, it is strictly forbidden, to avoid any security risks.