Easter Eggs in games: What, Why, but really Why?

Back in 2014 my esteemed colleague Daniel Efergan and I gave a talk about Easter Eggs in video games at the very excellent Playful 2014 conference in London.

The theme of the conference was ‘Hidden’, and the organisers from Mudlark asked us to talk about something personal to us; they didn’t want some thinly veiled product placement (and neither did we). Dan and I both grew up playing and still play a lot of games, so the idea of hidden things instantly made us think of Easter Eggs.

After defining between ourselves that Easter Eggs in the context of games are something hidden that falls outside of the normal rule set of a game (i.e. doesn’t necessarily reward or progress the player), we originally thought we would be talking all about game developers and ego. People want to make a mark on the world, especialy a world that they have created. However, after thinking and talking about it every Wednesday lunchtime at Spike Island for two months, that had shifted quite a lot.

We came to believe that although this is true, it is actually a much more interesting emotional response the joy Easter Eggs elicit is based on. The reason developers create them and the reason people feel so much joy in finding them is based on our own desires to break out of the rule set we ourselves currently inhabit.

We may have read too much into what is essentially just  a bit of fun, but watch the talk, see what you think.

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