It’s not unknown for game designers to enlist a little outside help when working on a new project – these days, simple social networking tools like Facebook, Twitter and even the game’s websites can be used to crowdsource and brainstorm all sorts of ideas.
That said, not-so-many years ago, it was nearly unheard of. In 1995, a secretive competition asked gamers – anybody, really – to simply write their name on the back of a postcard and send it in to Blizzard North. It wasn’t clear what the studio would do with the names, nor what the prize would be – just that it would have something to do with the upcoming game Diablo.
A young father heard about the contest, and while he figured his own name was pretty average, his newborn baby had been given a rather unique moniker at birth. So he filled out the card in his son’s honour: A mysterious-sounding surname, his mother’s maiden name, and a first name lifted from Blade Runner.
It took many months before the family heard anything back from Blizzard, leading Dad to believe they’d missed out on the prize. Eventually though, a package arrived on the doorstep: A copy of the original Diablo, a hat, a t-shirt and a statue of Diablo.
There was also a letter from Bill Roper, producer of Diablo, offering congratulations for winning the contest, and explaining that the baby’s name was now immortalised within Blizzard‘s latest game as an NPC, near the fountain in the center of Tristram.
My name is Deckard Cain Elder, and I am 16 years old.
…this isn’t the first instance of a gamer’s name being used in a story somewhere – but it’s a pretty unique example of a competition winner being used in such an iconic way. Whether Blizzard predicted it or not, Deckard Cain has remained a major figure in Diablo lore and has a featured role in the upcoming Diablo III.