Helping People With OCD Since 2006
by: Daniel Geikowski
©2012 Daniel Geikowski
Do Achievements or Trophies in games serve any purpose other than to show off in front of one’s friends?
The introduction of Achievements and Trophies in games have come about during the current generation of consoles.
They give the player an indication on how much progression they have made through a certain game, and also allows friends to compare how each other are doing in relation to a particular game.
However, do they serve any other purpose?
Trophies can’t stop a bad game being bad…
For somebody like myself, who has an Xbox Gamerscore of just a touch over 61000, they serve no other purpose other than something to complete.
While I have a few friends over Xbox LIVE and go to University with a large number of people interested in gaming, never do I try to shove my score or particular Achievements down anyone’s throats.
I see unlocked Achievements as another challenge of a game that has already been completed.
Achievements can provide longevity and multiple playthroughs for games. It has been argued that Achievements or Trophies are included simply to keep players entertained with a game, even after they’ve finished the campaign/story, etc.
However, Achievements cannot stop a bad game from being a bad game.
Reward Schemes- do they work?
A personal favourite of mine, Deus Ex: Human Revolution, rewards players for multiple playthroughs.
While initially I played through the campaign slaughtering everybody with my badass arm blades, once I finished, I found that there were Achievements for playing through as a passive player, not setting off alarms, etc.
Now, if there was someone that NEEDED to collect every Achievement in every game they played, they’d probably play through again just to unlock them and move on. But where is the fun in that?
As DX:HR is a favourite of mine, I enjoyed playing through the game a different way than before. Trying to unlock the Achievements wasn’t my only motivation for playing again.
It also allowed me to see various things that I had missed in my initial playthrough. Achievements can compliment the game to increase enjoyment.
However, as I stated before, Achievements doesn’t necessarily equal enjoyment in a game.
Sniper: Ghost Warrior is an example of this.
I had heard mixed opinions on the game, but as I enjoy my share of sniping action, I bought it anyway. While I wasn’t immediately regretting my purchase, as I progressed I noticed some bugs, and the gameplay itself was lacking.
Upon finishing the game, I had no desire to play it again. Achievements such as killing 2000 people or finding all secrets hidden in the game were not going to sway me to play again.
Bullet Cam is pretty cool in the beginning, but every shot? No.
Variety is the spice of achieving
That being said, the Achievements themselves range from the plain, easy and unimaginative to quirky and amusing to downright hard.
Pretty much every game has the obligatory “Finish the game on X difficulty” reward.
Then you have your skill-based Achievements such as “Get 5 pistol headshots in a row”. These are your bread-and-butter Achievements.
Then you have your challenge Achievements. These can relate to the entire playthrough as opposed to the singular action of some objectives. To go to the well again, DX:HR has Achievements for not setting off a single alarm or killing any civilian or enemy.
You also have your funny, quirky, sometimes Easter Egg related Achievements. An example of this is Dead Rising‘s “Frank the Pimp”, where the main character escorts around 7 women at the one time.
A favourite of mine is the “Dastardly” Achievement from Red Dead Redemption, where the player lays a hog-tied woman on the trains tracks and waits for a train to mow her down…not that I promote any of that sort of activity….
Then finally you have your downright controller-breaking, rage-inducing Achievements.
If someone where to brag about an Achievement/Trophy, it’s these puppies. These usually require a lot of repeated attempts and skill, and luck most of the time.
One of the first Achievements like this I encountered was the “Skydive to safety on Veteran” Achievement in COD4. I don’t know how many times I tried and failed that rubbish quasi airplane race/shooter at the end of COD4.
From the amount of rage spewing from my mouth, I’m pretty sure my fiancee thought I’d gone insane. The conversation probably went down like this:
Fiancee: “Maybe you should stop playing if you’re not having fun?”
Me: “BUT I AM HAVING FUN… SCREW YOU YOU HACK PIECE OF [expletive] SPAMMING TERRORIST! WHY AM I THE ONLY GUY SHOOTING ANYONE?! COME ON, I SHOT HIM FIRST! THERE IS NO POSSIBLE WAY ANYONE CAN DO THIS! INFINITY WARD PUT THIS [expletive] IN AS A JOKE TO PEOPLE!”
I got an extra 20-30 odd Achievement points, and unlocked the last remaining COD4 Achievement.
OCD: When gaming achievement gets compulsive…
However, after a few years gaming, what else do Achievements or Trophies provide?
Essentially they’re just a number next to a player’s name. It pretty much shows how more or less someone plays games compared to you.
Having a rare or hard Achievement doesn’t give you an advantage over another player. It’s not like your Gamerscore can convert to Points to spend on LIVE or the PSN, and you don’t get a special prize from reaching certain milestones in score.
They don’t make people buy certain games, or increase a game’s gameplay or story,.
If anything, they provide longevity to a game and give feedback to a player on their position in the game.
Ultimately, it’s up to the individual player to determine the impact that Achievements have over their gaming lives.