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The ripples of Google's Atari Breakout

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Google does do a superb bit of guerilla self promotion it has to be said. It wasn’t so very long ago that they introduced the concept of the Google Doodle, which lovingly hijacked special days, anniversaries, famous people and historical moments, often in an intelligently non obvious way to make the internet giant seem current, connected and somehow the wry guardian of our lesser known cultural legacies. Never knowingly overstated – but stated all the same.

Recently – Google had another little stroke of genius. Following their tradition of hoaxes and ‘easter eggs’, they embedded old school video game – Atari Breakout (picture space invaders meeting air hockey) in to their search engine. If you head over to Google’s image search page and type in ‘Atari Breakout’ – suddenly the page will leap into action and transform itself into the video game itself. Not only is it a bit of fleeting fun and an ideal way to while away some time at work with some proactive technological nostalgia, but it is something more. A secret. A fake secret that Google want everyone to know about, but a secret somehow still.

When this feature initially popped up, there was no statement from Google. No clumsy tab or pop up announcing it. No, the information slowly leaked out through technology blogs and strategic third party tweets – the writers of which had obviously been quietly briefed by Google, but by removing their fingerprints, they ensured that anyone finding the hidden game would have a frisson of excitement – a sense of triumph – a feeling of being part of a secret or some buried digital treasure. Top marketing.

Now – speculation is rife about why it works on the iPad but not the iPod as it falls into the IOS / Flash trap. Ironically of course, Steve Jobs and Steve Wozniak were the original prototype designers for Atari Breakout – but their version was apparently too complex for Atari who rejected the idea. And speculation is also rife as to whether Pac Man could be next. Could Google be offering fresh life to aging 80’s video games as a new community outreach policy?

Written by Cyrus Bozorgmehr - Google+ Profile - More articles by Cyrus Bozorgmehr

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