Love/Hate: Achievements and Trophies

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myachievement

Oh game related awards. How we love them, but at the same time hate them. They give us something to work towards, something to strive for in our games. For some they mean more than to others, I know a guy that’s got an 80k gamer score on Xbox Live. The dude is serious business. In PS3 trophies…That’s like level 20 or something. I’m not really sure how those work. I’m assuming they are the same as achievements, just a different scoring method.

Why do we love them? We love them cause it’s an accomplishment. It’s proof that we did something. Back in the day it was all word of mouth. Remember that kid that told you he beat Super Mario Bros. in a minute and got the super secret ending where you kill Toad? Yeah, he was more than likely lying to you. If the Nintendo had achievements then you could just look and see if he got it. They give you a sense of “I freakin’ did that!” And now you have proof. They are bragging rights in physical form. I love the feeling of getting a new achievement when I accomplish something. That “ding” is the greatest sound in the world when you’ve powered through a game on the insanity difficulty and the last boss came down to who had more pixels of health.

There are entire websites dedicated to achievements. Lists of the achievements, How to unlock them, boards with people looking to help with getting them, and how to get them the easiest. Entire communities are formed on these nearly worthless points. Gamers strive for the best when it comes to them. Yet at the same time they bring out the worst in us…

Some people take them way too seriously. I’ve met people on XBL that will judge others on their achievement progress. “Pfft 3000 gamerscore? What a noob!” Flo the Snucka, a guy I play with a lot online, says “Everyone with a lower score than you sucks, everyone higher than you has no life.” I’ve even been guilty of that. I look at my list of friends and random players and go “Ha! I’m better than you, my score is way higher!” then I will see someone with a higher score than me and go “Wow, that guy has no life…” We are all doing the same thing though, playing games. Gamer score does not equal skill most of the time. Just cause I have a higher score than someone doesn’t mean I’m a better gamer than they are. There are people I’ve played with where they have just had their 360 longer than I have, and that’s why their score is higher. I’ve encountered people that actually looked down on me in Rock Band 2 cause they had more points, saying “I’m better at that game than you, I can play more songs on expert!” But who cares? Isn’t the point of playing games for fun? Yet there are some that will shun others cause of score.

Then there are some that will just grind for achievements. Groups of people will get together and boost for the points. Lots of people think that ruins the experience, it’s especially annoying when you’re trying to play an online game and all the other people want to do is boost for points. Lots of times when achievements are “Get X number of something” people tend to just grind them. Dead Rising was the first one to do this on a large scale. Kill 53,593 zombies and you get an achievement. People thought this was insane! You expect me to kill 53,000 zombies?! Then someone came up with a plan to grind the kills in the underground tunnels, thus ruining the difficulty.

I’ve found myself not wanting to play games on other systems cause of the lack of achievements. There are a number of Playstation 2 games I need to finish or want to play through again, but I won’t cause they don’t have achievements. I then hit myself with a large rock, and sit down and play them. That’s no reason not to play a game. Before achievements there were just unlockables in games. Beat this game on the hardest difficulty to get a new character or something. Things you had to put effort in to get, but now it’s all about achievements. Rarely do games give unlockables along with achievements. Dead Rising game costume pieces for nearly each one you got. I asked people about it and they couldn’t think of any.

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I asked a few people I was playing with at the time some questions about achievements.

What were the hardest Achievements you’ve unlocked?

Flo the Snucka: Portal: Aperture Science, Earn gold medals on all Portal challenges. F.E.A.R: Survivalist, Complete the Campaign on any difficulty without dying.

Lost Remnant: Left 4 Dead: What are you trying to Prove.

JohnKo23: Kingdom Under Fire: Curse of the Developer, Reach level 80 with all characters.

What were the easiest achievements you’ve unlocked?

This question got a mixed response. Some of the achievements that seem easy are ones like completing levels. Most games, if not all, will give you an achievement each time you beat a level, and you always get one for beating it. This is something you would have done anyway, there isn’t much accomplishment in these. They are mostly there to make you feel like you are getting something out of playing. Then some games have ones that are just jokes. The Simpson’s Movie Game has one called “Press START to play.” All you do is press start and you get 5 points. Grand Theft Auto IV has one called “Off the Boat” where you complete the first mission, which is just driving up the hill.

JohnKo23 tells me that lots of achievement pride comes from skill. He told me about how he doesn’t feel skilled in First Person Shooter games, so when he unlocks the achievements he feels like he really got something out of them.

Flo the Snucka tells me that the more fun he has with the game, the more fun the achievements are to unlock. Using Crackdown as an example, he says he loved playing that game and the chaos you could create while playing. It made him want to get more in the game cause he wanted to actually play it.

Lost Remnant talks about how achievements can bring out the worst in someone. Telling me about playing Tenchu Z on every difficulty. He played all 50 levels on all 3 difficulty levels. He played 150 stages to get the achievements. He also said after he was done doing that he hated himself for it.

Sometimes with games, the achievements are what makes replay value so good. The people I spoke to about achievements said that unlocking them has made them play through games harder than they ever would have before. I too have experienced this. I normally just play through a game once, and if I liked it I might play it again. With achievements I will play it through, getting as many as I can, then play through again to clean up any extra ones I missed.

But does this ruin actual replay value? Does it just turn into “I’m playing through again for the points” and less “I’m playing through again to see what I missed.” Or “I’m playing through again cause I loved the game.” I know some people play a game through, get all the points, then never play it again. At the same time, there are people that do the opposite.

Gamerscore is another thing. What does it really mean? It’s meaningless! It has no real value system. What do you get out of the points? Nothing! What do the points mean? Nothing! It’s just a list of things you’ve done in a game. People take it so seriously though.

How do you feel about achievements? Tell me in the comments. I want to know what the readers think about them. Do you like them? Hate them? Could you care less about them? Are you a gamer that does everything they can to get them, or do you just play to play? The Nintendo systems haven’t implemented a reward system into their games, leaving it very old school in their approach. Do you appreciate this more? Or do you think it’s time for an update?

Thanks to those that I questioned about their achievements and stuff, and thanks to MAD Generator for their achievement generator.

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P.S. Count how many times I use the word “achievement” in my article

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One Response to “Love/Hate: Achievements and Trophies”

  1. Lost Remnant Says:

    Tenchu Z gives me nightmares. :(

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