If the Terminator movies taught us anything, it’s that technology shouldn’t be given too much power. You use some fancy tech in your defense system, and the next minute, Arnold Schwarzenegger’s teleporting around without his pants on. It’s a bad time. So, who let Surgeon Simulator’s in-game phone call us in real life?
Now, things getting a little too realistic is not something you usually need to worry about with Surgeon Simulator. The madcap title from Bossa Studios is essentially the Operation of video games. It’s one to laugh with and at in equal measure, especially with the one-key-per-finger controls. The team once feared they were only amusing themselves, but soon saw the ridiculous hilarity that the game caused in everyone who played.
It’s a game to mess around with and try just about everything, and the devs knew that. At such, all kinds of little easter eggs were thrown in. If you’ve only dabbled in the game, or you haven’t played, you might not know about this slightly spooky one (Surgeon Simulator spoilers ahead).
Back in 2013, when the game was newly released, players messing around with the game were discovering various things. In the case of this Steam Community discussion, Zadok_m was a little perturbed when they dialed their own number into the game’s phone. On hitting call, their real-life phone rang. They answered it, and “it kinda started playing music similar to the game.”
The first response to this slightly disturbing discussion thread simply reads, “It’s part of the puzzle.” Now that’s enigmatic (and not remotely comforting), morbosfist.
It wasn’t long before canny gamers uncovered exactly what was going on. As Eurogamer reveals, this easter egg is actually part of an elaborate ARG. Completing it gives you access to a hidden level, in which you perform anti-gravity surgery on an alien being. A gobbleshaft transplant, to be specific, whatever a gobbleshaft is.
It was truly an elaborate ARG, as you’ll see if you hit the link to Eurogamer’s solution. As far as the phone portion goes, user Matt Shea369 explained, "Call your phone with the in-game phone, and a series [of] low- and high-pitch tones are played. If you translate them into 0's and 1's, a binary sequence giving 9*5 is the result, which gives 45."
The ‘45’ is just part of the puzzle for part of a code needed to access the level. It’s an impressively convoluted mystery, especially within a silly game like Surgeon Simulator.
Hey #gamedev, tell me about some brilliant mechanics in games that are hidden from the player to get across a certain feeling. Example:— Jennifer Scheurle (@Gaohmee) September 1, 2017
Almost four years later, the whole ‘call yourself’ thing came to light through a Twitter thread from Jennifer Scheurle, asking game developers to reveal some secret mechanics from their games. Henrique Olifiers, co-founder of Bossa Studios, stepped forward. When asked if it worked across countries, he stated, “If my memory serves me well, it does- just needs adding the country code. God, I hope the dial-out server still runs!”