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The cat’s out of the bag

Discovered - hidden ‘Easter egg’ UV features on our gaming stamps

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Hidden ultra-violet (UV) features previously undiscovered have been revealed on our recent set of gaming stamps.

The additional features on the Special Stamp set, which was launched in January, were spotted by a fan on Twitter and revealed by Supple Studio and Bitmap Books, the designers who worked in collaboration to create the stamps.

The set of 12 stamps, which celebrate the UK’s contribution to video game design, feature hidden messages and icons – known as ‘Easter eggs’ – from the games themselves, which can only be read under a UV light.

The history of the Easter egg

The secret UV messages were included by the team to pay homage to the Easter egg - the practice of hiding messages or objects within a game for players to find. It is a tradition that goes back to video game developer Atari in the 1970s, according to Bitmap Books founder and video game expert Sam Dyer, who told www.designweek.co.uk: ‘Atari forbade designers from being credited for their games. So, one designer, named Warren Robinett secretly hid his name within Adventure.’ This secret inclusion spawned a host of other Easter eggs over the years, cementing it as a much-loved video game feature.

‘An appropriate approach’

Jamie Ellul, creative director of Supple Studio, said the team knew they wanted to do something special with the designs from the start. ‘We initially talked about using fluorescent inks, but then we hit on the idea of UV inks,’ he said. ‘It felt appropriate to take the same Easter egg approach on the stamps.

‘As with the typography on the visible stamp design, the typography of the hidden messages has also been taken from actual gameplay.’ Sam Dyer added: ‘These messages are things you’d see in the game after an achievement – for example, the Elite stamp says: ‘RIGHT ON COMMANDER’ which is a message that appears after 256 ship kills, which was no easy feat and an iconic phrase from the game.’

Similarly, the hidden objects in the Tomb Raider stamps, which depict four iterations of the iconic game from 1996, 1998, 2000 and 2013, are the various artefacts that Lara Croft collects during her adventures.

‘It’s great to have the cat finally out of the bag’

This is not the first time an ultraviolet ink has been used on a Special Stamp issue. Our Star Wars commemoration collection designed by Interabang in 2017 used the feature to hide Jedi, Rebel Alliance, The Empire or Bounty Hunter icons on the character stamps. Inspired by this, Sam Dyer said it was ‘agonising’ waiting for someone to discover the Easter egg.

‘We’ve been gagging to tell people,’ said Jamie Ellul. ‘But everyone wanted them to get discovered organically by a fan. It was beginning to feel like maybe no one would ever spot them, but it’s great to have the cat finally out of the bag!’