Life, The Universe, And Gaming: Are Leaderboards The New Black?
It’s late (early in the morning), I’ve had a long day where I actually set foot outside my not-so-humble abode, and right now all I really want to do is go to bed and read about a demon who pleads with me to burn the book in which he exists. And then maybe pass out and wake up many hours later, as starving as I am right now. But no, I have a column to do before I can do all of that because having started this a good few days ago, in my procrastination I left it for the absolute last minute.
Okay that’s not entirely fair: I had a certain reboot to review, which took up the majority of my time since creating this column, last Thursday. At least I think it was Thursday.
In any case, let’s get down to it.
I don’t appreciate leaderboards in my games.
Done. Let’s go to bed… What? Okay. Fine.
This is a trend which has existed for a long, long time and can be traced back to original arcades where high scores were posted for all and sundry to see, and there was always the one douche who saved their name as “ASS” when they got the highest score.
But of late, I’ve noticed that leaderboards have begun to permeate pretty much every genre of game in the living room or on PC, where even singleplayer games have them now.
This trend began a while back with Darksiders II, where I noticed a plethora of different stats being tracked and compared to other users. Sure it was great comparing these things but to what point and purpose? To show that I’m better than them at the game, or that I just have no life? And when I move on to another game, then what? I don’t exactly carry those leaderboards with me, do I?
Don’t even start about Achievements, you cretin…
No, we’ve had persistent character progression for a while now, after Call of Duty 4 showed the world how it’s done, but that game was intended to have a multiplayer mode from the get-go. Why do we now have such things as leaderboards, user tracking and social connectivity (Facebook and Twitter integration, anyone?) in our singleplayer offerings as well?
They’re all superficial, they only last as long as you play the game and then when you move onto another game, they are forgotten. Yet the pathological completionist slash competitor in me cannot stand seeing someone else’s name above mine, on a leaderboard. Thankfully most of these show tracking according to friends, because if the worldwide score was the default, I might have already offed myself in frustration.
Sleeping Dogs is another game which annoyed me with this, where the Clean Drive challenge constantly popped up while I was driving, daring me to better not just my previous time but that of my next rival’s, according to my friends list. Maybe I just want to play the game, Square Enix? Maybe I don’t care about leaderboards in your singleplayer offering.
And that’s really what it is for me. It’s as if the singleplayer game now has a multiplayer component entitled leaderboards. And every fucking singleplayer offering needs to have it. Why? For shits and giggles? For that competitive spirit? Or just because it was neat in that one game, that one time and now every game wants to do copy all the fucking things you belligerent, unimaginative, egregious trend-whore. I did not mistype that sentence.
One place where it actually works is the game I most recently played (and reviewed), DmC, where score is a core aspect of the game. As such, your level completion score as well as various other stats tie into how well you do in the game. Then it’s fine, for me. I can understand having leaderboards. “Oh, you got an S rank on that level? Well I got an SSS rank. Come on, do better.” And upon doing better, the player is rewarded for it, by the game, either with concept art or bonus souls or what have you.
But it doesn’t work in games like Sleeping Dogs and Darksiders II. Or do you think differently?
By all means, share your thoughts. When do you think leaderboards are acceptable in singleplayer offerings? Do you have a problem with them at all? Are they equally as annoying to you? Discuss.
I need sleep.