Do Achievements Ruin Videogames?


I feel it’s safe to assume most gamers would agree that Achievements have been a good thing for gaming. For many, Achievement collecting has become just another layer of their addictions to videogames.

I am one of those people who collect Achievements (and to a lesser extent, Trophies). I have spent countless hours toiling away in front of my TV, striving for nothing more than the telltale indicator to pop up, letting me know that at long last my work has paid off and that I have added another meaningless milestone to my Gamerscore — currently at 51,488 — a score that literally means nothing. And it is totally addictive and fun, which is the problem.

It’s not really a new concept, but I am here to say that Achievements have ruined gaming for me on a personal level because I find it very difficult to ever play games that don’t have them. My initial thought when deciding which game to play is, "Why play a game that won’t reward me in a way that the 360 ones will? It’s the main reason why I never went back and played all four Metal Gear Solid games in canon order. It’s the reason why I haven’t really gotten into my Virtual Console games on the Wii, and the reason why I haven’t gone back and replayed countless other games that I loved the first time around.

It’s been a slow realization of what a horrible way to approach gaming that is. To only play the games that reward me with a meaningless point value is so narrow-minded, yet I can’t seem to bring myself to ignore the effect Achievements have on me. Why?

For me, Achievements add a sense of completion to games, encourage competition, and in many cases persuade me to play videogames I might not have ever played. Achievements will even get me to continue playing a game longer than normal just for the sake of grabbing a few extra points.

But often they can have an adverse effect, and just ruin a game forever.

For instance, I can never play Left 4 Dead again because of my fevered attempts at trying to get a few of the game’s hardest Achievements. Never has a game filled me with such white-hot rage as L4D. I’m talking heart-pumping, spit-flying-because-I’m-screaming, adrenaline-filled rage because some of the Achievements are so hard to unlock. It even engendered a fight between my girlfriend and I that lasted a week, and is still embarrassingly brought up during heated moments. How’s that for Achievements ruining a game? At least I can say I learned my lesson not to take things so seriously in L4D2.

Online Achievements have also ruined many a game for me, or least hurt my experience playing them. There’s nothing like being kicked out of a game lobby because I wouldn’t let the other team win or kill me for Achievements.

There’s also nothing like having a game where it is seriously impossible to get the online Achievements simply because no one is f*cking playing them.

The Darkness? Prey? Shadowrun? Ghost Recon: Advanced Warfighter? The Chronicles of Riddick: Assault on Dark Athena? Condemned 2? They are either too old, or have poorly implemented multiplayer, or both — and whatever fanbase these games did have has moved on to greener pastures, leaving dozens of unobtainable Achievements that I nor anyone else will ever acquire.

Speaking of Achievements no one will ever get, let’s take a moment to laugh and then feel bad for anyone who still owns a copy of NBA Live 07.

If we still need further proof that Achievements have affected gaming in a negative way, then here’s a little anecdote that some of you might be able to relate to:

Back in late 2006 I played a lot of Gears of War. I’ll never forget this one little kid playing on the other team, who politely asked if my team would stand still for the entirety of the match so he could snipe us in the head, working toward the Achievement of getting 100 kills with the sniper rifle and 100 head shots at the same time.

We declined his request with all possible variations on the word "no."

Listening to the boy whine and chirp, his high-pitched voice becoming more and more desperate, I started to see a problem with Achievements because in a way, I felt his grief. Or, I did until he resorted to rage-quitting and leaving his team short-handed. These sorts of things probably happen on a day-to-day basis on Xbox Live just because people are assholes and will do asinine things to get Achievements at the detriment of other players.

Still, I feel there’s no hope for me in getting over my addiction to Achievements, even having said all this; they’re just too important to my sense of completion and my competitive nature with my friends on XBL.

Unfortunately, realizing and identifying the problem is only half the battle. I guess the only thing I can ask is if there’s anyone out there who can relate in any way. Anyone?


For more on this topic, check out Episode 9 of the VS Node Podcast, "I Did It for the ‘Chievos," by clicking here.


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Author: Tyler Cameron View all posts by

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