Achievements: Crack for Gaming

Hey guys. Sorry I’ve been a little lax on the whole “blogging” thing, but I swear, I have a good reason for it. In the last week or so, I’ve become addicted. To Achievements. Ya know, that thing on the Xbox 360 that gets you to play your games more? You know what I’m talking about. You’re probably going through the same thing right now, but are still in the denial stage. Don’t worry, it will come to you soon.

For the uninitiated, Achievements are points that you unlock when you complete certain tasks in your 360 games. Things like finishing a game on hard, or getting 100,000 points in that sch’mup all unlock Achievement points. The points then go into your Gamerscore, which is basically a barometer of how badass you are at gaming.

I didn’t put much stock into it when I originally got the 360, but over time, it slowly ate at my brain. Soon enough, more than half the reason I play my 360 right now is to unlock more Achievements. In the last week, I’ve added over 200 points.

I put a lot of time in Geometry Wars (which is too hard for its own good, btw), completely destroyed Lumines Live! (got half the Achievements in 24 hours), and just started Lost Planet. If it wasn’t for Achievements, I wouldn’t have even touched these games. Maybe Lost Planet, as that is a pretty cool game, but Geometry Wars is too damn hard, and I already have Lumines II for the PSP.

Whoever came up with Achievements, which is probably some squirrelly looking dude in an Msoft cubicle, is a genuis. He has actually come up with a whole new way for people to feel accomplished with their games. People don’t play their games to complete them anymore; they do it to unlock Achievements. And it’s not just me, as most 360 owners have become addicted. There’s gotta be some psychological term for this. It really is an amazing feat that they’ve given us a completely new reason to play video games. The person definitely deserves an Achievement for that.

After becoming an Achievements hound, I feel disappointed that Nintendo and Sony have not implemented a similar setup with the Wii and PS3. It may be semi-useless, but it gives us another reason to finish those games we have sitting on the back-burner, staring at us with puppy dog eyes.

The only thing I’d change is the point structure. Some games have too many Achievements, and when you unlock one, you only get 10 measly points. Dude, I just played for 3 hours to get that Achievement. Cut me some slack.

Anyone else want to introduce themselves to the group? We can help. Trust us.

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17 years ago

As I see it, achievements have brought scores back into video games in a meaningful way.  Scores used to mean something back in an arcade.  It wasn’t about finishing a game (since most arcade games could never be finished), it was about getting a slot on the top 10 high scores, to be heralded to the world (or at least the portion of it that walked through that arcade) as a great gamer.  One of my proudest achievements in video games was holding the top spot on an original vector-graphics asteroids machine outside of bethany beach for almost 8 years. Admittedly, these were mostly in the late 80’s to mid 90’s, so there wasn’t as much competition, but the pride remains.  All that went away with the shift to home consoles, however, both because battery-backup took a while to appear (so the scores were wiped the moment you cut the power), and since holding the title "Champion of your living room" just isn’t that cool.  Without comparison to others and competition for a top slot scores became arbitrary, and arbitrary compitition against yourself is rarely fun  They quickly faded out of video games, becoming less and less important.  By Super Mario Brothers, people were bragging about times, or coins, or what level they had reached, but not their score.  I had thought they were gone for good, but it looks like MS found a way to bring back the original reason for points – competition and glory.  And they did it on a global scale.  I have to say I’m impressed.

17 years ago

For me, it’s not so much achievements that get me to rack up the most points, but rather it’s the leader boards that do that. Achievements only get me to hit that finite point. Having Worldwide leader boards is what gets me to keep trying for that high score. Achievements could be considered the gateway to that style of play, but if there were no leader boards, I don’t imagine it would stick with me too much. I was planning on adding that idea to this blog, but it is actually deep enough to warrant its own entry.

17 years ago

Or were you relating the points to just the Gamerscore, stephan? That I can agree, but it seemed like your were coming from a more Gameplay-oriented view point.