This next post is something I been thinking about for a while now. I’ll admit that I don’t read a lot of blogs so it very well may have been discussed before.
Are Achievements enhancing my gaming or simply distracting me too much to enjoy the games I buy?
Way back when in the early days of the Xbox 360 I was very intrigued in the concept of achievements. I foolishly thought that you could use your gamer points to purchase items on XBL which although it would be a very cool idea I don’t think Microsoft would go for that.
Wishful thinking aside, I’ll be honest and say that I have had great fun tracking and earning these strange little badges of honour over the years. I’ve only got 100% in two games to date, Deathspank (which really wasn’t too hard actually) and Vanilla Borderlands (but they had to release loads of expansions, snatching my smug victory back away from me, curse their bones). There’s a couple more that I’m not that far from completing. Too Human will require me to do a MMO-esque loot grind with the treasured item not even at a reasonable drop% and Assassin’s Creed, but this requires sitting with a guide, collecting all the flags and finding all the Templars.
Speaking of this does remind me of a very silly achievement I went after, the collectible CD’s in Saint’s Row 2. I literally spent hours chasing them, my girlfriend on the PC next to me pointing out the next area to head to. After all this and finally picking up the 16 billionth CD I had collected them all. The familiar display flashed up on the screen with its pleasing sound (that has obvious ingrained itself into my psyche).
10 Gamer Points.
I had spent hours of my life in the pursuit of 10 gamer points!?! The irony was not lost on me. However the upside of this was I was playing a game well after completing the main storyline and enjoying it. That’s the great thing about achievements, they can help you milk every last bit of gameplay from a recent purchase which equals value for money in my head. There are plenty of games in my library that I would tucked away after completing had it not been required for me to say play through the game again as an evil character or bought my lunch in level 2 wearing slightly different coloured trousers this time.
The downside I slowly discovered was that I had started to read the achievement requirements even before my first playthrough of a game. “What if I spend hours on this title then find out that pulling the red lever instead of the yellow lever would’ve earnt my 10gp’s?” I’d think to myself. It would influence how I played the game and in my eyes this is a terrible thing. Playing games are generally a way for freedom of expression. As this character I would make these decisions, actions and use these tactics. But if you are governed by a set of benchmarks from the word go, you won’t be playing the game as you perhaps normally would.
Luckily, with my game of the moment, Call of Duty: Black Ops, I’ve learnt from my mistakes and barely looked at the achievements. I’ve been having so much fun playing it with friends that they’ve not even really crossed my mind. I’ve got back to having fun in the purest sense.
Achievements were a great addition to gaming all those years ago and I really appreciate them helping me derive more pleasure from a game than maybe I would’ve normally got in the long-term, but if you let them infringe upon your gaming freedom that’s when you need to step back and see the bigger picture.