Achievements Killed The Video Game Star

This month, I have been mostly playing… sod all.

For some reason, since the release of Dead Rising in September my gaming libido has been in decline. Maybe it’s zombie overkill (like that could ever happen!), or the exciting TV schedule (yeah, do I look like an ‘I’m a Celeb’ fan?) but for some reason the call of my Xbox has definitely been muted.

I still, like many gamers, have a stack of unfinished games, some of which I ran to the nearest game shop for on release day; the fact that many of them are now £20 cheaper and in a buy 2 for £30 offer just rubs a bit of salt into my wounds.

Final Fantasy XIII, despite years of waiting for it to be released, still has my team of outlaws hauled up on the Palamecia. Tomb Raider: Underworld, if you can believe it, has Lara trapped in Coastal Thailand limbo. Hell, my N3 game temporarily revived itself with the thought of possibly buying its recent sequel once it was completed, but subsequently died a death again when I realised I couldn’t be bothered to get everyone up to level 9, when I could be watching Edwardian Farm on BBC2 and learning how they used to manufacture quick lime… true story!

On occasion, I have dabbled in some online co-op of Dead Rising 2, just to finish off getting the 1000 points up for grabs, but it feels more like going through the motions than really driving for a sense of true achievement or purpose… but that’s when I had my breakthrough.

I am definitely not the first, and certainly won’t be the last to claim that achievements have changed the way games are played, but the more I come to assess my own gaming patterns of late the more I come to realise how much it has changed my views on my own skills as a gamer. Back in the day (pick any day you want really, but probably somewhere along the lines of circa 1996-2005) I would happily purchase a game, run through it once or twice (or a gazillion times if it was something like Resident Evil!) and consider it job done and revel in my success of completion.

More recently, I tend to pop a disc into my console and before I have even played for longer than half an hour, I hit my ‘Home’ button to find out “exactly what do I have to do to unlock a few points around here?”. Where is my drive? Where is my passion? If you had told me four years ago that I would have accumulated a gamerscore of over 40,000 I would have gone “Wow!”. Now I start to wonder exactly how many K’s ago that the damage was done and I started playing for achievements rather than for the game itself.

My gaming monster – caged but waiting

I want my enthusiasm back. I want to get a game, and instead of playing for a few hours and wondering why my score is no higher, I want to be so engrossed by a story or the gameplay that I forget to go to bed on time. I wish I could say that I will be banning myself from my Xbox 360 and trying to relive my glory days on the consoles of yesteryear, but I know that probably won’t last for long, and that’s really not the problem.

What I need to do is just not care about points anymore.

So here it is, my New Year’s resolution, six weeks early…

Next year I want to play games for games’ sake. Not for points, not for gamertag glory, and not for justification that I can still be called a gamer even though I’m a girl (that is just so ’90s) or because I don’t have as many achievements as the next person.

Play for good, play for evil, play for shooting the opposite team in the back of the head because you’ve earned your skill to be able to do it and it’s also kinda funny. Play through a game from start to end because it’s just that good… not because I might get 10G if I do.

I want to play because I love it… It’s a long shot, but I just might do it.







10 responses to “Achievements Killed The Video Game Star”

  1. Simon avatar

    It’s funny, I’ve kinda come to the same crossroads too recently. But, still, I do love to get things all completed and junk.

  2. Noozles avatar

    Be thankful you dont have OCD… my mate likes to complete achievements in the order they are given…. He gets very upset if it comes out in the wrong order… and yes, we have told him this is impossible….
    I only start worrying about it when i get into the last 2000 or so before another milestone….

  3. Mark P avatar

    I’ve got a couple of friends who turn off notifications for this reason, and they find it helps quite a bit in not making them all that bothered about their gamerscore.

  4. Zoey avatar

    This is one of the pluses of RPGs. They may have achievements but you get wrapped up in the story enough to have that “oops, it’s 2am” feeling still, and you know the achievements are few and far between 🙂

  5. Tony avatar

    I play half my games on Xbox 360 and half on PS3. So I’m never going to have a world beating gamerscore/trophy collection on either of them, and so I don’t worry too much about them.

    At the moment I am obssesively finishing off AC: Brotherhood, because I really enjoy being in that game world, rather than for the trophies. A Platinum would be nice, but there’s no chance as I’m not that into the multiplayer and it would break my “no fun, no play” rule to play it just to get them.

  6. TimG13 avatar

    To tell the truth I am a fan of Achievements/Trophies, but I never play a game solely for the purpose of boosting my score (despite what my friends say). I always simply play through a game first because I want to, possibly nabbing an extra Achievement here and there when I can. Providing that I enjoyed the game enough I’ll then go on to exhaust its full Gamerscore potential, or at least as much as I can be bothered to unlock.

  7. The Rook avatar
    The Rook

    I’ve noticed I play games for gamerscore too but not just for that. It used to be a case game beat move on to the next, it was never play through it again but go for the hardest difficulty. When I do go through my first playthrough I try to avoid looking at the achievements altogether and then check them on before a second playthrough. Some games I don’t do that with, such as Fallout New Vegas as it takes a long time completing one playthrough alone.

    I’ve had a few issues trying the co-op with Dead Rising and will venture back to it someday to try again and try to get the remaining online MP games completed as well.

  8. Optimus_Pints avatar

    We currently took to playing streetfighter again and not using anyones profile, our longest bouts must of been a good 6 hours solid…
    Are you not waiting for dead space 2? I know you have had zombie overkill but maybe that’ll sway your lull

  9. Dean avatar

    I totally sympathise… but then the tinkle of an achievement unlocking is so damn satisfying. Its the meta equivalent of collecting a 1 Up msuhroom in Mario.

    Oh, by the way, complements on the use of a Hiroshi Sugimoto photograph in your article!

  10. Amber avatar

    Yeah, I have a soft spot for achievements. But I usually play a game around 2 – 3 times, first time I play I play it to see what the game is about and how it feels. Second time around I play to get some, if not all the achievements. Games which I really enjoy I will just keep coming back to.

    But yes, achievements have changed the way I have played since I first got my Xbox last December. Ah well, back to the achievement grinding ;-P

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