Easter Eggs in Software, Explained

Easter Eggs in Software, Explained

Ever played a game🎮🕹️ and, as you venture off the main path, you stumble upon a reward? Perhaps, a hidden quest or collectible!The same is true for browsing websites, like Google search page.

Did you know that typing "do a barrel roll" or "Z or R twice" in Google Search 💻triggers a 360-degree rotation of the search results page? These hidden messages, quests, jokes or features are called Easter Eggs. And yes, this term does not only pertain to the famous egg hunting games for kids. Just like the "excitement" of Easter egg hunting for kids, discovering Easter eggs in software adds an element of thrill and surprise to the digital world.

History of Easter Eggs in Software

And when or where did they start, you ask?

Well, the practice of hiding Easter eggs in software dates back to the early days of computer programming in the 1960s and 1970s. Programmers would occasionally insert hidden messages, jokes, or features into their code as a form of personal expression or to leave their mark on a project. However, the term "Easter egg" itself to refer to these hidden surprises likely emerged in the early 1980s, coinciding with the widespread popularity of video games and the discovery of Warren Robinett's hidden message in the game "Adventure" for the Atari 2600.

Robinett is a game developer and is known for creating one of the earliest and most famous Easter eggs in the video game history.

“They took away my royalty, but I tricked them into publicizing my name.” -Robinett

Warren Robinett designed “Adventure” for Atari, one of the first fantasy video games

Why did developers incorporate Easter Eggs?

According to reports, at the time, game developers were not credited for their work, and Robinett wanted to leave his mark on the game. To accomplish this, Robinett secretly added a hidden room within the game that displayed the message "Created by Warren Robinett." He did this by exploiting a glitch in the game's code to access a hidden room. This Easter Egg went undiscovered for over a year until a player stumbled upon it in 1980. Once the Easter egg was publicized, it became legendary and set a precedent for developers to include hidden messages or features in their games.

Robinett quit Atari after finishing “Adventure” and traveled in Europe for months in early 1980.

The Appeal of Easter Eggs

These Easter Eggs discovered while playing are not only cool, but excitement and satisfaction come with the uncovering of these hidden surprises.

For example, in the game Math Blaster: 3rd Grade, a player named Rebecca Hoffman, a graduate at ASU's Center for Games & Impact, found an Easter Egg by beating certain levels. This Easter egg led her to a secret room filled with gems that helped track her scores.

When Rebecca figured out how to unlock this secret, she felt really accomplished, like she had solved a puzzle. This made her want to keep playing the game over and over again, just to experience the thrill of finding the Easter egg again. So, Easter eggs in games can make playing more exciting and rewarding for players like Rebecca.

Examples of Easter Eggs

Konami code

The Konami Code is a famous cheat code that originated in the 1986 video game "Gradius" developed by Konami. The code, which is entered using a sequence of buttons on the controller, typically provides players with special abilities, extra lives, or other advantages.

The Konami Code sequence is: up, up, down, down, left, right, left, right, B, A (or sometimes Start)

However, the Konami Code's influence extends beyond its original purpose in "Gradius." It has since been featured in numerous other Konami games and has become a well-known cultural reference in the gaming community.

In addition to its appearances in video games, the Konami Code has been used as an Easter Egg or hidden feature on various websites and software applications such as:

  • Google Search: Typing the Konami Code while on the Google Search homepage causes the search results to tilt slightly.

  • Facebook: Entering the Konami Code on Facebook activates a "Konami Blast" mode, where colored blocks fall from the top of the screen in a Tetris-like manner.

  • BuzzFeed: The Konami Code triggers a hidden dinosaur game on BuzzFeed's website, reminiscent of the Google Chrome "No Internet" dinosaur game.

  • GitHub: Entering the Konami Code on GitHub's website triggers a fun animation featuring Octocats, GitHub's mascot.

  • Rocket League: If you put the Konami Code at the Rocket League’s title screen it will change the logo to its predecessor Supersonic Acrobatic Rocket-Powered Battle-Cars.

Spotify's lightsaber progress bar

Spotify's lightsaber progress bar is a hidden feature within the music streaming app that was introduced as part of a collaboration with Disney for the release of "Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker" in 2019. Here's how to unlock it:

On your Spotify desktop app, search for Complete Star Wars Soundtrack in Spotify's library and hit play. You'll notice the progress bar transforms into a lightsaber. Click on the hilt to switch between different models and colors.

Google in 1998

Google has the history of incorporating Easter Eggs in its search engine. Aside from the barrel roll easter egg of Google, in its 15th birthday, Google unveiled a nostalgic Easter egg that allows users to experience how the search engine appeared in 1998. To witness this blast from the past, simply search for "google in 1998" (without the quotes) in the Google search bar. While you won't be able to perform an actual search using the 1998 interface, you'll be transported back in time to see Google's retro look from its early days.

Today, developers still delight users or players by burying additional content or features for them to discover. It's clear that Easter Eggs are an amusing and significant part of the digital world.

Nevertheless, their resilience is remarkable, given that Robinett initially didn't anticipate anyone discovering his hidden room. Today, there are countless Easter Eggs scattered throughout games, applications and websites. Which ones amaze you the most? Share with us.

Happy Hunting and Happy Easter! 🥚🐣🐰