In 1979 Atari released Adventure, an action-adventure game that is widely credited with essentially creating the genre. Players would explore an open world on a quest to find a magical chalice to bring it back to the yellow castle. It featured a few different castles and items to be discovered; a sword, keys, a magic bridge that let the player pass through walls, and a magnet that attracts the other items. Hidden within this world was a message from Adventure’s creator: Warren Robinett.
In the catacombs of the black castle, hidden in the south wall of a sealed chamber, one can find a 1-pixel object: the Gray Dot. It was the same colour as the wall and not attracted to the magnet like the other items, making it hard to find. By bringing the dot with you to the east end of the corridor below the yellow castle where other differently coloured objects are, opens up a passage into a secret room where the words “Created by Warren Robinett” are displayed. Robinett left Atari before the game was released and didn’t tell anyone about his little message.
About a year later, a player wrote Atari a letter, detailing how to find the dot and the secret room containing Robinett’s message. At first Atari was going to find the code responsible, but decided to leave it in, and coined the term Easter egg to describe hidden features of this nature. The Adventure Easter egg is not the first of its kind, in 2004 an Easter egg was discovered in the 1978 game Whizball where programmer Bradley Reid-Selth’s surname was hidden, but Adventure was the first widely known.
Since these early days of gaming there have been a lot of Easter eggs hidden by devs for players to sniff out. It’s their little way of putting their personal mark on their games, and serves as a reward for those that want to explore every nook and crevice of their beloved video games.