Mention Google Easter Eggs around anybody that has used the Internet for a few years and you’ll probably get a quick response.
Remember when they put Pac-Man on Google Maps?
My favorite is Atari Breakout!
Yes, Google has been distracting us for years here at Lieberman, and that distraction has served to distract you today. Whether you are working a half day because it’s Good Friday or if you are counting the minutes until you get to go do a REAL Easter egg hunt, here are a few to try:
Do a Google search for the phrase “Atari Breakout” and you won’t see much except the classic box and some references to this Easter Egg. Click the “Image” menu item to do a Google Image Search and it’s a whole different ballgame. They will serve up images of breakout in a real breakout game that you can play – even on mobile. Once you clear the board, you’ll then play with images of random words like Polo and Crystal (or so I’ve heard from some friends that have played multiple levels. ahem.)
These two are in the same league. Google the word “askew” and all of the results will come back, well, askew. The phrase “do a barrel roll” makes the whole screen flip around like a windmill. This is impressive on one level because the search results really are live and active and relevant, but on another level, if you have Evernote enabled you’ll see your relevant Evernote notes swirling around askew over there too. And yes, this also works on mobile.
Because you never know when you’ll need to come up with a random number, Google is there for you. Do a Google search for “flip a coin” and you’ll have a little animation of a coin flipping. On your phone, say “flip a coin” into Google and the lady will tell you the result before the screen will show you!
“Roll dice” is similar but you have 6 options instead of two and it works on your phone too.
This one is my favorite because it takes more explanation to get the joke. It’s basically the modern version of the “turn me over” note written on both sides of a piece of paper. Recursion can mean a lot of different things in different disciplines, but it basically means to repeat things in the same way over and over again. (And if you’re expecting different results that way, that’s known as insanity.) If you Google “recursion” it will come up with “Did you mean recursion” and every time you click that you get the same thing. It goes on forever. Or until you have to leave work because they turn the lights out.
I saved the best one for last. Go ahead and search for Super Mario Brothers on Google and look at the results. See that card over to the right with a Gold Box and a question mark on it? Remember what happens in the game when Mario jumps up and hits it? Yes, coins come out. Click it to your hearts content, because you know what happens when you get 100 coins.
Not a Total Waste of Time
All of these are fun and silly and maybe a waste of time, but they also show something about the ethos and the focus of a company. Attention to detail and a commitment to quality aren’t isolated incidents. If somebody can focus their skill on making a web page do a barrel roll, the can figure out how to make it display well on a phone, tablet, or desktop (aka, responsive web design.) As they develop ways to display images that people can interact with, playing Atari Breakout works through a lot of interface issues like the changing nature of search results and variable sizes of images.
One way to break through a creative block is to look at the problem like it is a game or a joke, thus knocking you out of your stuck way of thinking. Taking yourself off of the beaten path of a project to tinker with something off the wall might lead you right to the solution. A bunch of Raspberry Pis sitting around our office helped us solve the question of “How do you run 4 slideshows without internet, with hardly any wires, and without sitting laptops around a lot of food?”
So go play some games, try out some of these Google Easter eggs, and face some hard-to-solve problems fresh on Monday. Happy Easter!