What is a Virtual Easter Egg?

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by Barbara J. Feldman on September 10, 2008

When most people hear the words Easter egg, they think of brightly colored eggs dyed for kids to hide and hunt. However, in the world of software and computers, “Easter egg” takes on a completely different meaning.

What is a virtual Easter egg?

When it comes to software and computers, an Easter egg is the term used to describe a hidden message or type of feature in the software. Anyone who is running the software or working with it will usually not be able to immediately spot the hidden message or feature. The term Easter egg was coined because of its similarities with Easter egg hunts, where people search for hidden Easter eggs that are decorated or contain something fun. Easter eggs are developed by the programmers or developers of the program just for fun.

Where are Easter eggs found?

Virtual Easter eggs can be found in all types of software applications, music CDs, DVDs, and video games. So what exactly is a virtual Easter egg? There are many different forms. It can be a hidden level in a video game, the programmer’s name or a message appearing somewhere, an inaudible (at first) phrase, animation, or “hidden” tracks and features that are commonly found on music CDs or on DVDs. Disney has also been the subject of some controversial Easter eggs found on such movies as Aladdin and The Lion King. Most Easter eggs, however, are done in good form.

How are Easter eggs found?

Finding an Easter egg in a video game, software application, or DVD can be as simple as spotting it with a well-trained eye, but usually, they are triggered by certain commands within the application. For example, you may uncover an Easter egg in a video game by jumping on a certain spot, going through a specific entrance, and so forth.

If you want to find an Easter egg, there are a number of things you can do to trigger them, depending on the type. First of all, if you are following specific instructions or “cheats�? to locate an Easter egg, make sure you follow them to the letter; one wrong click or move could make it so you can’t find them. You should also make sure your instructions are for the same version of software you are working on; an updated version may have different Easter eggs and different triggers.

If you are looking for a software-based Easter egg, make sure you are not clicking outside of the area you are operating in. This offsets the sequence of events required for triggering an Easter egg.

When looking for Easter eggs in music CDs, your best bet is to let the CD run on its own. In some cases, at the end, “hidden tracks�? will show up as long as you don’t manually skip to the next song. The same goes for DVDs. Letting the DVD run through will also help you to locate Easter eggs. In addition, many DVD based Easter eggs are controlled and found through the remote.

As websites and software packages are continually updated and different versions come out, Easter eggs are eliminated or are no longer accessible.

Not all Easter eggs are hardboiled and dyed or filled with treats. Easter eggs in software and electronics are hidden applications that can be either complicated or simple, both in content and in locating them.


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Cite This Page

Feldman, Barbara. "What is a Virtual Easter Egg?." Surfnetkids. Feldman Publishing. 10 Sep. 2008. Web. 23 Apr. 2014. <http://www.surfnetkids.com/tech/471/what-is-a-virtual-easter-egg/ >.