It’s no secret that a huge amount of gamers love obtaining achievements and trophies. Since their introduction during the last console generation, entire communities and websites have appeared, devoted to helping achievement hunters hear that satisfying ping noise on their TV screen. For a long time, I belonged to this group of people.
I received an Xbox 360 pretty soon after its initial launch, and not long after first seeing those fabled words, “Achievement Unlocked”, when playing Gears Of War for the first time, I became addicted to increasing my gamerscore. I was never one of those types who would play awful games just for the easy G (I remember a friend of mine purchased Disney’s Cars just for the gamerscore, shame on him), but I would try my best to obtain as many achievements in a game as I could. I’ve always considered myself a relatively skilled gamer, and having a system, that in theory would show to the world how competent I was at playing video games was fresh and exciting. Over the next couple of years, I spent a hell of a lot of time playing through games over and over again, in order to try to “100%” them.
I don’t own a PS4 or an Xbox One, (although I may get a PS4 at some point in the future) instead the only current-gen console I own is a Wii U. Although some Wii U games may have their own in-game kind of achievement/trophy system, i.e Bayonetta 2 contains 50 bewitchments that are essentially achievements, there doesn’t exist a standardized achievement system on the console, and Nintendo has stated that they have no intention of developing one either. At first, when I purchased my Wii U, I was a bit worried that I would miss my precious ‘chievos, but after owning Nintendo’s latest system for over a year, I’ve come to the realization that I completely agree with their decision to not implement an achievement-like system on their console.
Now, I don’t think achievements are terrible, far from it, some can be incredibly clever and funny, whilst some can challenge the player to push themselves to “perfect” a game, but let’s be honest, most simply involve the player performing extremely boring tasks in the pursuit of an arbitrary number or trophy. Win 100 games online, get 100 kills with this gun, complete the game on X difficulty mode, the majority aren’t exactly inspired.
Yet, despite my reservations, I have a gamerscore of over 70000. Although I have attained quite a lot of achievements that I’m proud of (sad, I know), for the most part I now gaze upon this number every time I log onto my Xbox and ponder to myself, how much time did I waste doing menial tasks, just for more G’s? In all honesty, I don’t really want to know the answer.
The reason I’m bringing up this question now is because over the last couple of weeks I’ve gone back to my 360. I bought a few games for it that I’ve wanted to play for a while, and I find myself not caring about the achievements in any of these games. My time spent with the Wii U has made me realise that they really are not important at all, my belief is that they mostly serve to artificially enhance the length of a game by offering extra, mostly boring unimaginative challenges. My addiction of sorts in seeing an achievement pop-up caused me to forget why I play games in the first place; because they are fun, and grinding just to get 1000 kills with a certain gun, in order to add a measly 10G to my gamerscore is the antithesis of that.
Contrary to my initial thoughts about gamerscore when I first encountered them, I now no longer believe that gamerscore or trophies are a representation of a gamer’s skill level, rather they are just a sign of how much time a person has spent chasing something that is ultimately, meaningless. I don’t want to rain on anyone’s parade with this post, I know a lot of people genuinely enjoy achievement/trophy hunting, and that’s nothing to be ashamed of, though personally I no longer care about achievements or trophies. So the question is, do you?