Once in a while, developers include small, unexpected messages to the players in their games. Where do these Easter eggs come from? Let us take a look at their secret beginnings!

Steve Wright introduced the term Easter egg to video games around 1979 for Atari‘s game Adventure. Back then, Atari did not include the names of programmers in their games credits. However, one of them secretly hid the message “Created by Warren Robinett” in a place that was very difficult to access. It would have been to expensive to withdraw the released game. So, Steve Wright, as Director of Software Development, said that the message was an intentional Easter egg for players to find.

Since then, Easter eggs have been included in video games in various forms. They may be texts, pictures, or cheat codes. In Cheat Codes: Origins I describe how the Konami Code has been left in a game unintentionally. However, due to its popularity with players, Konami decided to include it intentionally as an Easter egg in later games.

Easter eggs may even be whole games! In the 2020 release Doom Eternal, we can play the original Doom from 1993 in its Ultimate version on a computer in the Doom Fortress.

I still remember finding my first Easter egg in Mario Kart 64. On the track Royal Raceway, there is a yellow path standing out in the green grass near the end of the track. If we leave the track and follow the path, it leads us to a replica of Princess Peach’s castle from Super Mario 64. I was super excited and drove around the castle grounds for minutes, hoping to find another secret. There were none, but it was still fun to drive there once in a while. It may not have been really hidden, but it was unexpected and made me very happy.

If you develop a game, take a minute to include an Easter egg that brings a smile on the face of anyone who finds it. It does not matter, if it is a surprised smile, a confused smile, or a knowing smile. You can include a funny, unexpected picture or a reference to your other works. An Easter egg can be a famous pop-cultural reference or something really niche. While many may not even notice obscure messages, they are all the more unexpected and fun for those who understand them. In a pinch, you can always include a text that says “There are no Easter eggs here”, put it in a hidden corner, and let your players think about that.

What are your favorite Easter eggs? Share your experience in the comments below! I look forward to reading them. In the meantime, I will search the tall grass. A wild EASTER EGG appeared!

(Photo by Pel on Unsplash)