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Meet the Chrome dinosaur, "the most played game on the Inter

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Meet the Chrome dinosaur, "the most played game on the Inter

Postby williambert on 13 Nov 2021, 19:51

Google claims 270 million games per month for the "dino game", hidden for five years in the Chrome browser. We spoke with Frenchman Sébastien Gabriel, one of its designers.

The exact date of its release has been lost in the limbo of the Net: the press, in any case, discovered it on September 25, 2014. It's been five years this month that it landed in our lives at the in favor of an update to the Chrome browser. Since then, it has been "probably the most played game on the Internet," said Sundar Pichai, CEO of Google (which runs Chrome). With its 270 million players claimed per month, it plays - apart from technical complexity - in the same court as Fortnite and its 78.3 million monthly players.

This phenomenal success was developed by only four people, including two French. It doesn't have an official name. During its development, it was nicknamed at Google Project Bolan, after the group leader T. rex. Its co-creator calls it T. Rex Game or Chrome Dino. "It wasn't really meant to have a catchy name," admits Sébastien Gabriel, interviewed by Pixels on the occasion of the anniversary.

We will therefore call it "the dino game". A simple, discreet name that suits him well. Are you using Google's web browser? Have you ever had an internet outage? You've seen the dino game before, probably without knowing it. To see it appear, you have to open a new Chrome tab, on a disconnected computer. Synonymous with a throwback to prehistoric times, "when the Internet didn’t exist yet", a cute little pixel dinosaur issues an error message.

Everyone has seen this screen before. But "only" 270 million people a month press the space bar, allowing the dino to take off.

But since 2014, miracle: by pressing the space bar on your keyboard (or since 2016, by pressing on your smartphone screen), the dino takes a small leap, to set off in a mad race in the desert.

It's one of the simplest games in the world: you jump with the space key, you duck with the down arrow ... and that's it. The dinosaur moves on its own: it's up to the player to make sure he gets as far as possible avoiding cacti and pterodactyls in his path. Impossible to win: "You always lose at the end, just like the dinosaurs," laughs Sébastien Gabriel, who claims a score of 2,000 points or so.

The success is such (especially in populated countries where the Internet connection is unpredictable, such as India, Brazil, Mexico or Indonesia) that after its release, a version to play even when you have Internet has born.

Getting back to basics

Five years later, the little dino has become an integral part of Internet culture. Some, modeled on the character of Chris Pratt in Jurassic World, invent a sexy trainer for him, while on the Reddit forum, we draw comics to his glory, or we wonder who is the person who achieved the highest score. At the risk of disappointing them, Sébastien Gabriel confirms it to us: Chrome does not keep track of the scores of the estimated 270 million monthly players.

The popularity of the little dino was not won in advance. A browser is a window on the Internet: it exists to be transparent, to be forgotten. “Strangely enough, error pages are rare moments of identity for Chrome,” explains Sébastien Gabriel. The dino game was born, he said, "from an effort to make error pages more enjoyable, useful and interactive. The goal is to try to reduce user frustration when a request is unsuccessful. "

In a historical update, a day-night cycle has been added to the dino game, along with pterodactyls. "T. rex" can now stoop to avoid them.

A team of four people got down to work: programmer Edward Jung, designer Alan Bettes, as well as two French people, Sébastien Gabriel and Manuel Clément, respectively responsible for graphics and sound.
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