Gay Programmer Fired for Easter Egg Studs
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From: Peter Langston <psl>
Date: Tue, 10 Dec 96 22:26:33 -0800
Subject: Gay Programmer Fired for Easter Egg Studs
[Different takes on the same sequence of events... -psl]
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Gay Programmer Fired for Adding Studly Guys to Computer Game
By ELIZABETH WEISE, AP Cyberspace Writer
SAN FRANCISCO (AP) Buxom beauties are fine but buff hunks
aren't, a gay programmer found after he snuck some muscle men in swim
trunks to a game he was working on and got fired as a result.
Jacques Servin, 33, worked at Maxis Inc., which also produces
the popular SimCity 2000 game. He slipped the unauthorized images into
the new action game SimCopter, in which players fly rescue mission through
a complex 3-D city peopled with tiny characters.
"The artist that was working on it made them these standard
female computer-game bimbos, really skimpy shorts, big breasts -- what
you'd expect," Servin said.
The male figures were all "really dumpy, little squat middle-aged
types," he said, so he threw in some beekcake.
The game was released on Nov. 20 and 78,000 copies were shipped
before the company discovered the additions. Sevrin was fired the next
day for "adding the unauthorized content," said company spokesman Patrick
But Servin's additions went completely by even hard-core devotees
of the game, such as 12th-grader Matt Barbato, who maintains a SimCopter
fan page, said WiredNews, an online news service that first reported
The popular SimCity games aren't about sex or violence, but about
creating, Buechner said.
Servin disagreed, saying images of scantily clad women are
considered part of the background and therefore not objectionable, but
hunky men are.
"Even in the final game, there's one woman who's in a state of
semi-undress. I guess the position for her in a real city would be a
prostitute and nobody's ever complained about those," he said.
Servin said there was nothing overtly sexual or obscene about his
added characters. "These boys in swim trunks just walk around -- very
rarely, I might add -- except on certain days of the year." Those dates
include Friday the 13th and Servin's birthday, Sept. 30, as well as Aug.
22, his ex-boyfriend's birthday. "On those days, all kinds of things
happen. There will be boys kissing, there will be a greater number of
bimbos, there will be Elvis impersonators. It's really hilarious," he
Maxis was not amused. Buechner said the company was working on
a "patch" that would remove Servin's hunks from the game's background. He
said Maxis hoped to have the patch available on the company's Web site by
"People can also call our customer support and we'll mail them a
disk with the patch on it," Buechner said from Maxis' offices in Walnut
Hidden jokes are so common in computer programs that they have a
name -- Easter eggs. Computer game players prize them and tell each other
how to find them on Internet discussion groups.
Maxis has a specific policy again programmers' including any
unauthorized material in its products. "A tighter procedure to test
compliance with this policy is now in place," Buechner said.
Servin hastened to point out that Maxis was a fine employer and
he had never felt any homophobia at the company. "I didn't do it out of
anger, just kind of `Why not?' I can't quite figure out why they would be
so angry. It's not a game for kids, it's for 20-year-olds. But you put
gay and kids anywhere in the same sentence and people explode," he said.
A writer with two books out as well as a programmer, Servin said
he wasn't concerned about finding another job and in fact was pleased to
have some time to work on his fiction.
WALNUT CREEK, Calif., Dec. 5 (UPI) -- A renegade computer programmer
at Maxis inserted an unexpected feature into the company's new flight-
simulation game that got him fired: muscular bikini-clad men who
periodically appear and kiss one another.
Maxis spokesman Patrick Beuchner said Thursday the company did not
know about the problem before its Nov. 20 release date of approximately
80,000 copies and will offer a patch to the program on its World Wide Web
site and on disk.
"These things added to games are called 'easter eggs,' and it's
popular among code writers in the software industry," Beuchner said. "We
have a policy not to include unauthorized things, and that's why he was
Some innocent additions were allowed in "SimCopter," he said,
including the rare appearance of the Loch Ness Monster and a superhero
flying through the air.
When players complete a level in SimCopter, they are usually greeted
by fireworks and a brass band. In the first nine levels, this is what
happens, Beuchner said, but in the tenth and final level, the band is
occasionally replaced by men celebrating in swimming trunks.
Programmer Jacques Servin told the Internet service HotWired that he
inserted the figures in SimCopter as a statement of gay activism.
Servin said he was instructed to create several animated ``bimbos''
for the higher levels of the SimCopter. He did that and then included
several ``studs,'' to make the point that homosexual imagery is virtually
While the figures primarily appear when players complete the highest
levels, Servin said he also programmed the game to release additional
scantily clad men on special occasions, such as Friday the 13th and his
"He says it will happen, but I don't know if it will happen," Buechner
said. "We don't think it will interfere with the game."
Boy 'Bimbos' Too Much for Game-Maker Maxis
-- by Steve Silberman
The pre-Christmas shipment of SimCopter -- an action game from the makers
of SimCity 2000 -- contains a hack by an in-house programmer who
supplemented the game's cast of pulchritudinous female "Sims" with
broad-shouldered male "Sims" in swimsuits. The manufacturer of SimCopter,
Maxis Inc., discovered programmer Jacques Servin's provocative hack only
after more than 50,000 copies of the game had been shipped. Servin was
terminated last week. The game is being re-coded "as we speak," says Maxis
spokesman Patrick Buechner.
SimCopter aims to amp SimCity 2000 up to another level, by allowing
players to fly through complex 3-D landscapes on rescue missions. By
extinguishing fires, quelling urban riots, and stopping street crimes in
progress, players earn points that allow them to purchase faster and more
efficient rescue helicopters. Landscapes can be imported from SimCity
2000, which is widely acknowledged as the defining classic in its genre
of games combining cybernetics with real-time engagement.
"My job was to make the little people with a body and animation editor,"
says Servin. "The artist who used my editor to make the bodies ... was
aggressively heterosexual, and made several 'bimbos,' which was my boss's
term," recalls Servin, who is gay. "At a certain point I wondered,
'Bimbos -- why not studs?'"
Servin stripped one of the male Sims, producing, in his words, "a muscleboy
in swim trunks." He then altered the game code so that "should you
encounter one of these youths, you must kiss him. He will kiss you back."
The act of kissing a male Sim -- as when kissing a female character --
triggers loud smooching noises on the digital soundtrack.
Some players find many of SimCopter's lascivious sound effects -- which
are accompanied by perpetual, lambada-like gyrations of the Sims' torsos
-- annoying. "The moaning and cooing got on my nerves instantly," says Dave
Grund, a flight-simulation enthusiast who has played computer games for
15 years. Grund, however, thinks SimCopter "would be a great game for
kids, because there aren't a lot of games out there that don't ask you to
Servin claims that he coded the "muscle boys" to appear only "every few
months" of play. But "unfortunately," says Servin, "my random-number
generator didn't work as I'd planned," and the hunky Sims appear more
often, especially in the final level of gameplay. The modified Sims,
however, haven't been noticed by players since the game's 20 November
release, not even by hard-core devotees like 12th-grader Matt Barbato,
who maintains a SimCopter fan page -- including an archive of performance-
enhancing cheat codes -- on the Web.
It was SimCity creator Will Wright himself, Servin says, who discovered
the hack, which will churn out more Speedo-sporting youths at certain
times of year, like Friday the 13th and Servin's birthday, 30 September.
Then, Servin claims, "everywhere you look," you'll see "muscle studs
kissing everything in sight, especially one another." Servin also used
the animation editor to thicken the legs and arms of some of the female
Sims "to try to make them into drag queens," he says, but admits that they
still "weren't noticeably anything but hot chicks."
Maxis spokesman Buechner said Servin was fired solely "due to the
insertion of unauthorized content." Servin says he's "actually delighted"
to be unemployed, and stresses that he didn't intend to harm his former
employers, who he describes as "very enlightened" about gay issues. He
was, however, trying to make a point about how "heterosexual content is
always implicit" in computer games.
"I've always wanted to be an activist," says Servin, "but activism is so
moribund now. Do you think these heads of corporations are going to walk
into an art gallery and say, 'Oh, wow -- I was wrong'? Symbols are so much
more powerful where you don't expect them."
From: the New York Cybertimes, Dec 8, 1996.
This material is copyrighted to the New York Times Company.
Programmer Fired for Hiding Gay Images in Computer Game
SAN FRANCISCO -- A rogue computer programmer was dismissed late last month
after secretly coding thousands of copies of a store-bound computer game
to create animated images of men kissing each other, the game's
The programmer, 33-year-old Jacques Servin, was dismissed by the
manufacturer, Maxis Inc., after it was discovered that he had encrypted
SimCopter, a new helicopter simulation game, with a command to generate
images of men in swimsuits kissing each other at certain points during
More than 78,000 copies of SimCopter had been sent to stores before the
code was discovered over the weekend of Nov. 23 and 24 by other
programmers at Maxis.
The company said Servin had been dismissed for "insertion of unauthorized
material" in the game and not because of the images' content.
"The insertion of unexpected 'fun' scenes in computer programs is popular
amongst code writers in the software industry," the company said in a
statement. "However, Maxis has always prided itself on creating engaging
software the whole family can enjoy."
In the game, players earn points by navigating a helicopter through
various rescue missions. After players successfully complete the 10th,
and most difficult, mission, they are supposed to be greeted by an
animated crowd of grateful citizens, fireworks and a brass band. In the
tampered version, "the brass band has been replaced," said Patrick
Buechner, a company spokesman.
The discovery of the images sent the programmers at Maxis scurrying to
fix the software before customers noticed the alteration. The company has
sold more than 5 million copies of its previous simulation games. In a
statement released Thursday, Maxis announced that it would distribute
corrective "patch" software to eliminate the images as soon as possible
via an 800 number and the World Wide Web.
Buechner said that the company, based in Walnut Creek, Calif., had
received only a few complaints about the images, but that it expected more
calls as players progressed through the game's more difficult levels.
Many computer game programmers include small signature codes -- called
"Easter eggs" -- that activate only under specific conditions. In the case
of SimCopter, the gay images, while usually only present in the 10th
level, are programmed to appear in especially high numbers Sept. 30,
Servin's birthday, and on any Friday the 13th.
Servin, who is a homosexual, said he had created the images for "a thrill"
and to call attention to the lack of gay characters in the rapidly
expanding market of personal computer games. "There were already bimbos
in these games," Servin said in an interview. "It's just that they were
scantily clad women."
Maxis' phone number is 510-927-3900.
© 1996 Peter Langston