Did you know that as well being a traditional Easter treat, the term "Easter egg" also denotes a hidden feature that can be found in a variety of media and communication channels?

23 March 2016

So what makes an Easter egg? Certain unwritten societal rules tell us that giving a chocolate bar on Easter just won’t cut it, but can a chocolate bilby make the grade? A similar debate and uncertainty exists in the world of content Easter eggs.

The importance of the hunt

The widely accepted feature of Easter egg lore is that they need to be hidden. But how difficult to find does an Easter egg have to be?

Example: In Disney Pixar's "Monster's Inc.", a toy clownfish is passed between characters, a clear nod to the yet-to-be-released "Finding Nemo". 

Verdict: Not an Easter egg.

By bunny or by developer, Easter eggs are placed with care

The hiding of Easter eggs is a labour of love, with eggs dispersed diligently and deliberately. As such, a certain degree of nous is required to differentiate between the intentional and the accidental.

Example: In the fourth instalment of controversial game series “Grand Theft Auto”, players can drive their car up to a specific swing-set in the game only to have it suddenly catapult their vehicle into the air, soaring across the sky.

Verdict: Not an Easter egg.

This clever feature was nothing more than an unintentional, yet amusing, glitch in the game. Glitches are mistakes in software that can throw up (sometimes literally) all kinds of weird and wonderful results.

An Easter egg with amazing filling

The purpose of an Easter egg is really up to the person hiding it. Easter eggs can be secret messages, additional content, bonus games, photos or even just pure absurdities. Sometimes, however, they’re packed full of goodness.

Example:  An "Old Spice" commercial that aired in the US included a shot of a ten-digit phone number. Only two people decided to call the featured phone number, and both won double passes to the Super Bowl.

Verdict: What an Easter egg!

Not only a brilliant Easter egg, but also a very clever way to make sure people pay close attention to your ads in future.

A range of treats that would rival Wonka himself

Methods of hiding Easter eggs, seem to know no bounds. CDs have been known to include bonus content that can only be found when rewinding from the point that they automatically begin to play. A seemingly inconspicuous police box on London's Earls Court Road becomes Doctor Who's iconic TARDIS when viewed on Google Maps. A hidden feature on the DVD menu of Christopher Nolan's notoriously disjointed film "Memento", plays a version of the film in chronological order.

Example: In Atari's 1979 game "Adventure", players could manipulate an almost invisible dot to gain access to a secret room that displayed the simple text "Created by Warren Robinett".

Verdict: One of the first ever Easter eggs!

As Atari did not publically credit game designers, Robinett decided to take matters into his own hands, inadvertently getting the ball rolling on a brilliantly quirky feature of technological design.

Happy Easter everybody!