By Kate Salkin, Senior Interactive Designer
July 05, 2016
Easter eggs. Internet culture loves them. Your mom thinks they are painted and placed in baskets once a year. While we are here to talk about our favorite Internet Easter eggs, let’s quickly summarize what an Easter egg is in the context of computing and online culture so we are all on the same page. An Easter egg is any joke, message or feature hidden within an application. While Easter eggs can be found in movies, TV shows and video games, in most cases the term Easter egg is referring to something hidden within a website. A simple Google search will show you that the Internet is chalk full of fun, ridiculous and downright hilarious Easter eggs, but some of the best Easter eggs can be found on websites you have likely visited today.
So with that being said, let’s dive into our seven favorite Easter eggs found on popular websites and apps.
Buzzfeed Konami Code
An overwhelming amount of Easter eggs are revealed using the Konami code. For those of you who don’t fancy yourself a video game aficionado, the Konami code is a series of actions that, when entered, served as a cheat for many video games made by the Konami company throughout the 1980s. This code, seen below, stuck as an insider’s homage throughout video games in the 1990s and is now used to reveal fun Easter eggs on websites today.
Facebook, Google, and even Vogue have had Konami code Easter eggs on their websites at one time, so it is no surprise that Buzzfeed got in on the action. At the time of this post, entering the Konami code on Buzzfeed’s homepage will replace all text with the word “Wilkie” and replace most images with a GIF of Buzzfeed’s Chief Technology Officer, Mark Wilkie, eating Cheetos with chopsticks. In the past, the Konami code replaced Buzzfeed’s homepage with a smiley sloth and, before that, a young, mop-topped Justin Bieber. While we are not entirely in on the joke with this one, give it a try. It is still fun to find.
Konami Code Honorable Mention:
- Use the Konami code on the digg.com homepage. BOOM! You’ve been rick rolled!
Google Atari Breakout
Google is unquestionably the king of Easter egg games. Want to play Zerg Rush or Conway’s Game of Life? You can if you know how to find them in Google. But our favorite game found in Google’s search engine is the classic Atari game, Breakout. To play this addicting time suck, search “atari breakout” in Google. Once results populate, change your search type from “All” to “Images.” Wait a few seconds and your image results morph into a classic game of Breakout. Use your mouse or your arrow keys to keep the ball in play. Just like the original game, the levels get tougher as you play.
Google Game Honorable Mention:
- Search “google pacman” in Google to play the classic arcade game in your browser.
YouTube Harlem Shake
Remember when you, your company, your neighbors and your grandparents were doing the Harlem Shake? There is no denying it, and it’s okay, we are guilty of our own rendition. That being said, no one felt the wrath of Harlem Shake videos more than YouTube, so it shouldn’t come as a surprise that they got in on the action with their own Harlem Shake Easter egg. To find this hidden gem, from YouTube’s homepage, search “do the harlem shake.” Much like the dance craze, you will start to hear the familiar Harlem Shake beat as the YouTube logo rocks back and forth. When the beat finally builds to its familiar chorus, every line of text, image thumbnail and menu item will rock out to the beat. Give it a try. It will bring back some cringeworthy memories.
YouTube Honorable Mentions:
- Search “use the force luke” in YouTube and watch as your results shift and zoom under the power of the force.
- Search “doge meme” in YouTube to see all text change to the doge meme’s neon-colored Comic Sans.
Chrome Lonely T-Rex Game
Seeing a “lost Internet connection” prompt typically comes at the excitement of no one. You need to check the weather, you need to print your boarding pass or you need to send out one last email. These are the only times your Internet connection goes out. While the Google Chrome browser won’t fix your connectivity issues for you, it does make your lost connection a little less painful. For those of you familiar with losing connectivity while in Google Chrome, you may have seen a cute, little T-Rex at the top of your lost connection prompt. Why is it there, you ask? Well, if you press the space bar when this prompt appears, you will see the T-Rex start to run as part of a game. Continue to use the space bar to make your dinosaur character jump over the impending cacti. The cacti get closer together and the T-Rex starts to run faster the longer you play. Give it a try. It is a great way to kill time while waiting for your Internet connection to return.
Facebook Messenger Chess
While a game where a T-Rex jumps over cacti is all well and good, we have another Easter egg game that might appeal more to the sophisticate in you. We typically use Facebook Messenger to send direct messages to friends, but the developers over at Facebook hid a fun, fully-functional game of chess within the Messenger app that you can play with anyone. To start a game, open a Messenger conversation with someone and type “@fbchess play.” Viola! A complete chess board will appear in your conversation. Chess pieces move by typing various commands. For a full list of commands, type “@fbchess help”
Google Classic Search Results
As we have already mentioned, Google hides a ton of Easter eggs in its products. And while we wish we could talk about all of them, there are way too many to mention here. But another great Easter egg outside of the gamer universe is a reference to Google’s humble beginnings. As many of us know, Google’s first search engine went live in 1998. While many of us might think that the look of Google’s search engine hasn’t changed much from then to now, you might be surprised. To see what Google looked like nearly 20 years ago, search “Google in 1998” in Google and watch your browser results transform into a dated-looking design. Ah, how far we have come.
Google Honorable Mentions:
- Search “do a barrel roll” (a reference to the Nintendo 64 game, Starfox) in Google and watch your search results do a 360°
- Search “askew” in Google to see your search results rest slightly, well, askew.
Google Maps Loch Ness Monster
The Loch Ness monster. A mythical and controversial creature that was first spotted in the Loch Ness river in 1933. Since then, many believe that this creature doesn’t actually exist, but these people haven’t done their research on Google Maps. To see the Loch Ness monster for yourself, search “Loch Ness, United Kingdom” in Google Maps. Instead of the usual yellow stick figure (named Pegman), you will see the Loch Ness monster itself, ready to be dragged onto your map for a street view.
Google Maps Honorable Mentions:
- Search “Area 51” in Google Maps. When you drag Pegman over Area 51, he turns into a UFO.
- Search “Hawaii” or “Florida” in Google Maps. When you drag Pegman over either of these states, he will turn into a mermaid.
Why do websites and apps create these Easter eggs in the first place? The short answer is that they are just fun. The longer answer is that they keep a company’s development team happy and productive in times where there might be some downtime. In an environment where the best developers and programmers are highly desirable, giving these employees the opportunity to create fun Easter eggs speaks highly of company culture. In turn, this can help recruitment. Furthermore, there is a huge subset of Internet culture who love finding and talking about Easter eggs, so it keeps people talking about a particular company in new and unexpected ways.
While we went over some of our favorite Easter eggs found on the most popular websites and apps, there are Easter eggs hidden all over on websites that aren’t quite so mainstream. So get out there! There are plenty more Easter eggs to be found.