It’s no secret that video game programming can come with its fair share of faults. From coding not going the developers’ way, to tricky designs, all the way to errors in development, many different kinds of mistakes can be made along the way.
There are a few instances in gaming, however, when these issues have actually played in the developers’ favour. Who would have thought that limitations in consoles could have created entirely new gaming genres, or that some of the most well-known features in video games to date were actually unintentional? Certainly not the developers in question, that’s for sure, but they most likely ended up being thankful for those mistakes in the aftermath.
In this list, we will be breaking down 10 ‘happy accidents’ in development, where slip-ups that weren’t supposed to happen were instead kept around. Some got through to the audiences without the developers’ knowledge, while others were mistakes made in production that were eventually appreciated. Regardless of the reason, some of gaming’s most iconic features came about by pure mistake, but were recognised as gold instead of as trash.
10. Easter Eggs
Starting this list off is the phenomenon of “Easter eggs” in gaming: secret features found hidden in the games themselves. The very first one created, however, was not exactly intended to be there.
The Atari 2600's Adventure was relatively popular at the time of its release, but its creator was never given an ounce of credit. That’s right, the entire game was created by one Atari employee, but he never saw recognition for his work! Rough. He wasn’t willing to be forgotten in a hurry, though. Remember the name: Warren Robinett.
Irritated at the lack of credit he would see for his efforts on Adventure, Robinett decided to exact his revenge in an ever-so-subtle way. In 1980, video games often suffered from a glitch known as “sprite flickering” — when too many sprites were loaded onto one screen, they often flashed and flickered in eye-searing ways. Robinett cleverly used this glitch to his advantage.
Hiding one singular-pixel item on one of the level’s floor tiles, Robinett made this item capable of activating a secret room. The room was empty, and served no purpose to the gameplay, but it held a message. Written on the floor of the room were four iconic words:
“CREATED BY WARREN ROBINETT”
Petty or genius? Whatever your opinion on Robinett’s act of defiance — which went unnoticed by Atari until the game was released out into the hands of its players — it went on to accidentally create one of the most famous features of video gaming today: the Easter egg.