The concept of Easter eggs in media is nothing new. In movies, they’re often included as some sort of inside joke or reference that only the truest fans will get. They even exist in fast food in the form of a secret menu. In video games, Easter eggs tend to be some combination of the two. However, this College Hoops 2K8 tidbit is not an Easter egg — far from it.
About a year ago, I found something in College Hoops 2K8 that I’m still confused by to this day, which is why I finally have to write about it. It’s something that could only possibly be in the game by accident or due to some oversight in the “bug squashing” process in the final days before the game was shipped. After all, what I’m about to showcase is not something any normal human would ever find, except this was the last college basketball game 2K Sports ever released, and thus I’ve been playing it on and off for nearly 15 years at this point. In other words, if you play a game long enough, you’re bound to find some weird bugs, but this is just so random that, well, let’s get to it.
Finding The Easter Egg
After winning the National Championship in College Hoops 2k8, you’re shown a newspaper on the screen. When you see a newspaper in any sort of animated media, there are a few ways to go about it. You might see squiggly lines, a gibberish language with made-up characters, or it might even be all real words. The local newspapers in Madden 06 had the standard publishing placeholder text in Latin, but it was blurred out to make it seem like real words.
College Hoops 2K8 opted to blur out text, but I could tell it wasn’t the Latin “Loren Ipsum” text. The text is blurry but not enough that I couldn’t make out some letters and even some full words. Being a naturally curious human, I needed to know what it said.
From a letters and shapes standpoint, I can see the that first line of the article appears again a few lines after the player picture appears. It appears again in the first line under the player picture. The quotes give it away that the wording here is being repeated. Whatever this text says, it’s been copied and pasted a few times in the space of this newspaper article.
By quickly looking at the words in the newspaper, I could see a few acronyms. One appeared to be “POT “or “PDT” but the other one appeared to say FBI. This just piqued my interest even more. About halfway down the left side of the page, on the narrower column area, I was able to make out what seemed like “Tacoma Police Detective Chris Taylor.”
At this point, my interest became confusion. This article not only seems unrelated to basketball in any way, but it’s starting to sound somewhat serious. With that in mind, I searched for this specific police detective to find out why he would have been quoted by the media.
Getting The Internet Involved
Here is where it gets really strange: a simple search of the name brings up a few articles. One of them was behind a paywall from a local newspaper, but one was from Fox News. If you look hard enough, you can see “FoxNews.com” in the aforementioned College Hoops 2K8 article. The title of that article: Police ‘Expect’ Convicted Sex Offender Will Be Charged in Murder of Washington Girl.
The first couple paragraphs of the article did not match the text I could see in the game. However, scrolling down I found an exact match. The following text was seemingly copied and pasted from this article and put directly into College Hoops 2K8:
“Ramsdell said that Zina was found in a rural area “within Pierce County.” However, he declined to comment on the condition of the body when it was found.
Tacoma Police Detective Chris Taylor said the girl’s body was discovered at about 6 p.m. PDT, about the same time a meeting was taking place to organize a neighborhood search of Tacoma’s Hilltop area, near the alley where the girl was last seen on July 4.
Police and FBI officials said Adhahn is a convicted sex offender and is charged with failing to register. He has denied having anything to do with the girl’s disappearance.”
The article continues on, but I won’t write it out here as quite honestly it gets more troubling as the article describes the suspect’s prior charges. That said, I want to be clear that some of the paragraphs I’m not listing are also part of this College Hoops 2K8 article (and I have linked to the news story as well). Again, you can’t clearly read all the words (especially not off the captured pictures here), but after I found the real article, it made it much easier to decipher some of the blurry words.
An Unsatisfying Conclusion
As someone who fixates on minor details (like everything so far in this entire article), I was left stumped after finding out the origin for the article. I was relieved that I found out what the article says, but I was left with so many questions. Why not just use the Latin text, like Madden? Why get text from an article online? Should that appear in the credits, like some sort of bibliography?
The real article was published online in July of 2007. That’s well within the timeline of when College Hoops 2K8 would have been worked on and finalized for the Fall 2007 release of College Hoops 2K8. But why was this the article that was used? Who would have even found this story to include it? And then why include it? Was it just because the article had to be a certain number of characters? But then if that’s the case, you’re still grabbing a real story and then copying and pasting it multiple times to fill out the character limit.
I’ve never worked on a video game, so I’m not sure what the process is for smaller details like this. But it’s baffling that this was the article they ended up choosing. And then nobody else reviewed it and thought it might be a bad call?
It’s not often that I write an article that doesn’t leave me feeling like I accomplished the goal I set out to do. But that’s what this feels like. While I did figure out exactly what the newspaper article itself says, I’m now even more curious to know why this happened. Given that this game is almost 15 years old, I doubt we’ll ever know.