Part of the fun of playing video games is how many layers you can expect to find as you guide yourself through the narrative, as you’re rarely just playing a linear button-mashing story. The time it takes to create a game means that developers find new ways to add layers. From in-joke mini-games to Easter eggs, meta content, to real-world references, how can developers add layers to their stories?
Since the inception of gaming, developers have been placing hidden Easter Eggs throughout their games. Partly to amuse themselves and others who have worked painstakingly on these projects, and partly to get players to try to find them. The age of social media means these Easter Eggs become more expected and shared once found, which helps share the popularity of the game online.
For example, Grand Theft Auto V is known for its many Easter Eggs. From alien sightings, ghosts, and back-title cameos to the Thelma and Louise moment that you can achieve in your car at a certain part of the map (no spoilers!)
Crash Bandicoot’s N Sane Trilogy remastered elements used for a famous cheat code, that allows you to play a version of Spyro during Crash 3. The developers also included references to the game series Uncharted – which returned the favor and referenced Crash Bandicoot itself.
Just Cause 4 attempted to go overboard and stuffed the game full of Easter Eggs, which have fueled the YouTube content for many game influencers, as they teach players where to find the Jurassic Park enclosure and the secret room that pays homage to A-Ha’s Take On Me music video.
Hidden Casino Games
One of the most common examples of a mini-game are casino-inspired extras. Earlier generations of Pokémon contained a Game Corner, which allowed players to take part in mini-games with the hope of earning tokens, which enabled them to purchase special evolution stones, and even rare Pokémon that couldn’t be caught throughout the actual game.Playing slots helped to add a new level to the games and solidified the colorful, layered narrative that Nintendo and Game Freak were attempting to create.
Furthermore, Red Dead Redemption and its sequel feature a rather more gritty poker mini-game that players can have a go at. The rounds of cards provide a welcome relief from in-game tension and allow players the opportunity to try to win something to aid their gameplay. The game is set in 1911, at the end of the Wild West era in America, so allows players an opportunity to engage with poker at its early roots – before Vegas and the sleek table game we know today.
It is an interesting offering for those who may be used to a variety of options when it comes to playing poker, especially the many versions that can be found when playing at a casino online. The dusty card and chips game that Red Dead offers is worlds away from the polished live poker, for instance, allowing players to see the dealer choose their cards in real-time.
Games developers are clever, and we will expect to see more and more gaming references, especially as the culture of gaming has grown so expansively. Whether this comes in the form of Easter Eggs, mini-games, or hidden levels, we will definitely be paying more attention when we play new titles.