Abyssal Pixels: Why Achievements And Trophies Are Important To Me
Before you storm off to the comment section, yes achievements and trophies are pointless. They offer nothing of value and could have just as well never existed. I know most of you reading this have little to no interest in achievements or trophies and I understand that. That’s absolutely fine. I certainly won’t hate you for it. But, they are important to me and I would like to give you my reasons for why. It might seem pointless, just like trophies and achievements are, but everything I wanted to talk about in this joyous column has already been covered numerous times and frankly better than how I would have covered them. So sit back and relax as I take you on a journey through the Land of GamerScore and Shiny Cups.
When I first got my Xbox 360, achievements weren’t really that important to me, just like most gamers are. But when I first got a 1000G for Oblivion (it was my third game on the system) I just had to have more. It became an addiction for the longest time and like any addiction, it got a little out of hand. I started buying kiddie games for the sole purpose of getting easy GamerScore which is something that I really regret in my gaming life. I didn’t enjoy playing these shoddy games, but the prospect of getting more points on my gamercard was too good to pass up.
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This went on for a surprisingly long time, but eventually I realised that this wasn’t fun anymore. I was grinding for days on games I didn’t even enjoy just to get a few extra points. I think this realisation popped up after I was playing the goddamn Shrek game and falling asleep from how boring it was. Shortly after that episode, I cleaned my act up a little bit. I still played for achievements, but only on games I really enjoyed. If you look through my gamercard, it will almost look like a record of what games I found enjoyable. If there’s a low score then I didn’t particularly care about the game. If it has a rather large score then I loved it or at least stuck with it for a little longer than average.
Now to address the statement I made in the title. Why is this set of numbers and actions so important to me? Well, it’s because it has made me a better gamer. Also a more knowledgeable gamer. When I look through the gamercards or PSN IDs of people that don’t really care for achievements or trophies, I can see that they missed out on quite a lot in their games. I have the achievements in Deus Ex Revolution for going full stealth on Hard and not tripping a single alarm and I did all of those in a single playthrough. That playthrough was challenging and massively enjoyable and that’s an experience I will always fondly remember. Meanwhile, someone else’s achievement list just shows they finished the game and maybe did some miscellaneous things. Now, who got the most value out of their game, purely from a time invested standpoint?
The thing is, if those achievements didn’t exist then I would never have bothered. I wouldn’t care to challenge myself to that extent. But because those achievements were there, I ended up doing it and it was one of the best things I have done in my gaming career. Also, because I did that, I’m now an avid fan of stealth games because I experienced that satisfaction and wanted more of it. I then did Dishonored full stealth while killing nobody and never upgrading a power in a single playthrough. I also performed quite well in Hitman Absolution. A genre I was merely disinterested in before is now one of my all time favourites and that’s all thanks to a bunch of achievements I decided to go for.
It also puts my skills to the test. I have played every Call of Duty on Veteran since Call of Duty 2 and finished all of them on that difficulty, purely because I wanted to get the achievements. At least in the earlier games, that was a feat to pull off. It wasn’t easy, but I somehow had the skills and more importantly the patience to see it through. Veteran difficulty has become astoundingly easy with the newer titles, especially Ghosts (which I have completed on Veteran twice now; once on Xbox 360 and once on PS4), but it might not be just because the developers were lazy bastards, but also because I’ve become better at shooters since I play them on such high difficulties all the time.
I have many achievements that other people have admired me for just because they are incredibly hard or time consuming to obtain. That makes me proud because I like being recognized as a good gamer. I got a PS4 a few weeks ago and I already have more trophies than some people that have had it since launch. Hell, I’m even catching up to people that played on the PS3. Some people even asked me how the hell I managed to do that so quickly and the only response I could give is that I’m good. That makes me sound like an egotistical ass (this whole column sounds like it too) but that’s the truth.
Achievements and trophies are also good evidence to prove that you actually pulled off something impressive. I’ve had people tell me they played through CoD4 on Veteran without dying (honestly) and all I have from them to prove it is their word. Meanwhile I can say that I finished Fallout New Vegas on Hardcore mode on my first playthrough because you can see that in the way the achievements unlocked. It’s a good method of proof and can give validity to your bragging rights.
Some people have been vocal about achievements and trophies just being given away these days where you get rewards simply for finishing the game. While I do agree that that’s a problem, it’s also a good indicator of how much gaming you have actually done. I mentioned this in my exclusive and I stand by my opinion that achievements and trophies help give people an idea of just how much time you’ve actually spent playing your games. Are you going to trust someone’s opinion with 20G for a game or 560G for a game?
Once again, I know achievements and trophies are worthless in terms of practicality, but the experiences they have provided me and the skills they have given me gives them some value in my mind. I don’t see my GamerScore as a set of numbers, I see it as testament to my accomplishments and absolute passion for gaming. I don’t see my new trophy count as a bunch of shiny cups, I see them as an indicator of how much I love playing the games I got the privilege to play. They’re my gaming monuments and something that I can take pride in. That’s why they are so important to me.