Surprise! Easter Eggs

One of my big initiatives this year was the introduction of Power Cards to enhance my Avatar System and allow students to tailor their “game” experience. Students can purchase the cards as part of my gold economy, win them as part of a reward program, and earn them as they rank up in my Black Tie Ranking system. I also wanted to hide more Easter Eggs, both physical and digital, to give students some fun surprises and include some more randomization to the class experience. The Power Cards and the Easter Eggs have become a natural pairing.

Easter Eggs can encourage exploration. Depending on how the Easter Eggs are used they can encourage more interaction of the class website, increased physical exploration of the classroom, and/or more in depth investigation into a fictional narrative. However they are utilized they can be very motivating to our Free Explorer types. Both Marczewskji’s Player Type Hexad and Bartles Player Types model have player types interested in interacting with the world. By hiding Easter Eggs the game designer can provide this motivating experience.

I have included this mechanic in two ways so far. The first was to include digital Easter Eggs on my class website. I use the new version Google Sites to build a class webpage. The aesthetic is not nearly as customizable as the old version but it is far superior to Google Classroom for setting a theme (maybe this is the contrarian in me). I have a plain white background so I cut out a blank white square which effectively blends into the background. After placing this picture (which matches the background) on the website I then link it to either another website or another hidden page on the site. I hid what I thought was a fairly easy Easter Egg on the Home Page – it links to a you tube video of Spandu Ballet – but no one has mentioned it yet. I am not sure if this means they haven’t found it or haven’t told me. I will start dropping hints soon because I have hidden harder Eggs throughout the page to encourage more exploration of the site. I know these havent been found because they are links to power cards which no one has claimed.

The second Easter Egg mechanic is hiding physical power cards throughout the school building. This has been far more popular and fairly simple. As I walk through the building to my office or classroom I hide some cards in the hallway or classrooms I know my students go into. I have also enlisted some of my fellow teachers and staff as well. First to get permission in their classrooms, but some also act as gate keepers. Several staff and faculty have a few cards they can give away when a student says the “word of the day”. For the most part this is just giving the faculty member a compliment (I rotate the gatekeepers to prevent “farming”). At worst the student is giving a compliment to a non-card holder but everyone feels uplifted 😀. Another variation on this would be to have a mission quest with student’s cracking a code to give a particular faculty or staff member a password.

This has hooked several students that I am told were problems in other classes. One student’s dad told me this was the first class that the dad didnt have to harass the student to get his work done. The Easter Eggs don’t have a direct impact on this, but the student is much more engaged with my class than he apparently would be otherwise. 

I have been using this card hiding Easter Egg system as a classic behavioral conditioning technique as well. Now that students have become used to searching for my cards I am starting some side narratives that will be physically located in other areas outside of my classroom. For Example, I am enlisting the Spanish teacher to create a narrative that will be delivered entirely in Spanish. These missions will be ‘located’ outside of her classroom.

Easter Eggs are a great way to further engage students. This particular mechanic can be motivating for a number of player types. Free Spirits enjoy the ability to explore, Players enjoy getting the physical rewaerd, and Socializers enjoy gossiping about who got what card and where. Let me know what your doing with Easter eggs at #xplapcamp or by tagging me @MrPowley on Twitter!

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