Was there a cooler character in 1990s video games?
Probably… I don’t have a list but Final Fantasy VII’s Vincent was easily my favorite. 20+ years later I wasn’t able to remember Vincent’s backstory but it was heavily implied that Vincent was a vampire when the character shows up in the game. I just Googled Vincent to write this and his backstory is WAY more complicated and based in the game universe’s narrative than I remembered. As you can tell the cool thing about Vincent wasn’t his back story. A lot of his cool factor was the gun and more was the look. None of that explains my connection to this character.
The reason I remember Vincent was that he was a secret.
Vincent wasn’t originally intended to be in the final version of the game and so he wasn’t included in either the original RPG party or among the characters that would be encountered automatically through the storyline. In order to gain Vincent as a character the player had ONE shot in the narrative timeline to unlock him and then had to follow a complicated side quest. He was hidden… He was a secret… Thank goodness for the early internet!
I still remember Vincent not because he was secret but because I felt like I was in on the secret. To put it in gamification vocabulary… I had Access.
Last week I introduced my students to my Skyrim Inspired Skill Tree Constellations. I developed a Google Site with a slew of side quest options. I created a Glide App web app that connects with the Google Site (sidequests2020.glideapp.io). I would describe the initial response as ‘intrigued’ but I have not had any students complete side quests yet.
Part of my plan includedccreating “hidden” quests. These quest pages are hidden on the Google Site and require a special code to gain access. The mechanic for this is through hiding easter egg item cards.
These cards are cut out and hidden around the school. On Friday I hid 18 cards for 2 different side quests. On Monday 3 students stayed after school and got permission from the assistant principal to wander around and find most of them. (They missed this one)
When they showed me all of the cards they found I told them to keep one of each and they could rehide the rest – which they happily agreed to. By this morning (Wednesday) all of the cards are gone (except the one above). Also interesting, I have had 4-5 students ask me questions about the side quests. The goal of the cards was never the treasure hunt aspect but rather that feeling of gaining “secret” access. In fact I am counting on the students sharing the codes with their friends just like I had the internet sharing Vincent back in 1997. The point is to create the illusion of limited availability to create that feeling of secret access I felt when I “found” Vincent.