The Advent of Easter Eggs in Software and Game Development

As Easter approaches, we’re reminded of the tradition of hunting for colorful eggs hidden by the Easter bunny. But did you know that the term “Easter egg” also refers to a hidden feature or message in software and game development?

The first Easter egg in software is said to have been created by programmer Warren Robinett in 1979 for the Atari 2600 game “Adventure”. Robinett was frustrated by the lack of credit given to game developers at the time, so he inserted a secret room in the game where players could find his name.

Since then, Easter eggs have become a beloved tradition in the software and gaming industries. They can range from hidden messages or images to entire mini-games that can only be accessed by inputting a specific code or sequence of actions.

Easter eggs serve a few different purposes in software and game development. First and foremost, they’re a way for developers to have fun and express their creativity. They also reward dedicated players who take the time to explore every nook and cranny of a game or piece of software.

But Easter eggs can also be used for more practical purposes. For example, in software development, Easter eggs can be used to test new features without releasing them to the public. If an Easter egg is discovered and becomes popular, it can also generate buzz and positive publicity for the software or game.

The marketing team put together a list of prominent examples of easter eggs. This is a small glimpse of what the software industry understands as easter egg. To all dedicated developers: if we missed yours, just comment on the article below – we are happy to add it to the list.

Program/GameEaster EggDescription
Google Search“Do a barrel roll”Typing this phrase into the Google search bar causes the search results page to do a 360-degree spin.
Microsoft Excel 97Flight SimulatorHidden inside the program is a fully-functional flight simulator game that can be accessed by entering a specific code.
The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time“Biggoron’s Sword” QuestBy completing a series of side quests, players can obtain the powerful Biggoron’s Sword, a hidden item that is not necessary to complete the main storyline.
Microsoft Windows 95“Hall of Tortured Souls”In the “About Windows” section of the Control Panel, there is a hidden easter egg room that includes a creepy maze and a wall of developer portraits.
The Simpsons: Hit and RunAlien ConspiracyThroughout the game, players can find hidden clues that lead to an alien conspiracy storyline, complete with a secret level and boss battle.
Google MapsLoch Ness MonsterIf users zoom in on a certain location in Scotland on Google Maps, they can see a pixelated image of the Loch Ness Monster.
Doom IIJohn Romero’s HeadIn one of the game’s levels, players can find a hidden room with a giant, grotesque image of game designer John Romero’s head on a spike.
Microsoft Office 2000Pinball GameHidden inside the “About” screen of Microsoft Office 2000 is a full-fledged pinball game that can be played with the keyboard.
Minecraft“Far Lands”Players who travel far enough in the game’s virtual world will eventually reach a glitched-out area known as the “Far Lands”, where terrain and physics behave strangely.
The Stanley ParableSecret EndingsThis game has multiple secret endings that can only be unlocked by deviating from the main storyline and exploring hidden paths.
Examples of prominent Easter Eggs from the Software and Gaming industry

Of course, Easter eggs can also be a source of controversy. In some cases, developers have inserted Easter eggs that are offensive or inappropriate, leading to backlash from users and the media. It’s important for developers to exercise good judgment when creating Easter eggs and ensure that they’re appropriate for all audiences.

So as you celebrate Easter this year, take a moment to appreciate the Easter eggs that developers have hidden in the software and games you love. Who knows? You might just discover a new favorite feature or mini-game.