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The first easter egg-video game

Published by Caroline Lamarque on

Video games are a rich medium. It is therefore not unusual to find hidden winks in some video game productions. Whether they are secret messages, bonus mini-games or explicit references, easter eggs take all sorts of forms. However, who could have hidden the first one in a game? So let’s go on a hunt for the original egg!

The first video game easter egg is often associated with the game Adventure released in 1979 on Atari 2600. Its developer, Warren Robinett, had hidden a credit of the game mentioning it: “created by Warren Robinett”. This mention is placed in a secret room that can only be opened with, among others, a key measuring only one pixel. This easter egg is in fact a clever response by Robinett to the policy at the time that prevented creators from being credited.

However, some might admit that the first known easter egg is hidden in the game Moonlander (known for the moment). This game was developed in about ten days by Jack Burness for the launch of DEC’s GT40 monitor, in October 1972. The objective of this game is to land a spaceship on the Moon. Burness’ inspiration probably comes from the last Apollo program launch he attended a few months earlier. In his game, you can find a McDonald’s on the moon, and our character asks for “two cheeseburgers and a big mac to go” (normal, after such a trip, who wouldn’t be hungry?).

However, this humorous wink is not always considered as the first easter egg since according to Guinness World Records, the first video game containing an easter egg would be Starship 1 released in 1977, 5 years after Moonlander. In this arcade game from Atari, the hidden message “Hi Ron! “(in reference to the developer) appears after a certain key combination, offering the possibility to play ten free games.

So it’s all a matter of personal interpretation. If you consider today that an easter egg consists in an external reference, going out of the original game’s diegesis to be connected to our reality, then you will be among those who define (for the moment) Moonlander as the first video game to contain one. On the other hand, if for you an easter egg is above all a wink to its creator, its studio or its license, then your choice will rather be Starship 1 (always in charge of discovering an older one one one day).

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Categories: Culture