Do Achievements/Trophies Matter (to you)?

Personally, I love the Achievement system used in the vast majority of games available for the Xbox platform. The Achievement system basically awards players with “Gamerscore” for completing tasks off of a specific task list that changes with each game. All of your Gamerscore is shown on your Gamercard along with your username, your online repetition (i.e. do people enjoy playing online with you or do you often get reported for inappropriate behavior), and a picture of your online avatar. Unlocking achievements is completely optional, and while some gamers will spend hours trying to unlock all of the various achievements for their favorite games, other will run through the story, usually unlocking less than half of the achievements, and then never play the game again. Being completely optional, some players will have high Gamerscores while others will have very low Gamerscores. For the most part, Gamerscore is completely superficial and holds almost no value. The only real use for Gamerscore is that players can look at and compare each other’s Gamerscore, seeing who has the higher one and what achievements someone else has that you have not unlocked yet. 

The Achievement list of each game is usually very different from other games, as players can get all of the achievements of some games like The Walking Dead in one play-through, while other games, like Dragon Age: Origins, require the gamer to complete the game multiple times in order to unlock all of the achievements. Xbox is not the only system to have an Achievement system, as PlayStation has the Trophy system and Steam has an Achievement system, and the prevalence of Achievement-like systems across multiple platforms can be used as evidence that the idea of unlocking achievements/trophies for completing specific actions/tasks in video games is appealing to a wide range of players.

For me, the achievement system usually doubles the length of time that I would normally spend in a game, turning a 10-15 hour experience with a game into a 20-30 hour experience. I love to unlock achievements, not because I care about my Gamerscore or showing people how much/ how long I have played a game, but because I like feeling that I got the most out of my purchase. No one can deny that video games are expensive. At minimum wage, you need to work for eight hours to get enough money to cover the purchase of a video game with the tax included. I generally try to play a game for as long as I had to work to get it, so a $60 dollar game had better give me at least eight hours of gameplay. Aside from the monetary factor, I personally enjoying looking over the achievements that I have gotten over the decade or so that I have played on the Xbox 360 and Xbox One; Once you unlock an achievement, the Xbox automatically records the date of when the achievement was unlocked, so you can go back and see what day you unlocked a certain achievement. Looking back through the dates of my unlocked achievements is sort of like looking back into a photo album, as the dates bring back memories of what was going on in my life at that time. I also think it is neat to be able to look back at all of the games that I have played over the years, which also brings back memories. In terms of gameplay, I really enjoy how achievements make you approach games in different ways and alter your play style in order to unlock certain goals. For example, you get an achievement for beating Fallout: New Vegas on the realistic difficulty setting, and in this difficulty you need to constantly seek out food and water, as well as the damage you receive from enemies is greater. In the normal mode of Fallout: New Vegas, however, you do not need to worry about food/water and the damage you take is severally reduced, thus your play style when playing realistic mode is much more conservative (playing it safe instead of running into battles) than when you play the normal mode of the game. 

At the end of the day, however, achievements are completely superficial and amount to almost nothing. You do not need to spend hours replaying a game to unlock achievements. You do not need to stress out trying to beat a game on the hardest difficulty with a specific weapon all the while not dying just to get an achievement. It does not matter. Yet people still do it. Why? Surely it must vary case to case, as I do it to get the most out of my games, while others must do it because they are “completionists” (people who strive to get all achievements/trophies, collect all items, do absolutely everything in whatever game they are playing). What about you? Do you play on a platform that has an achievement-like system? If so, what is your opinion on achievements and trophies? If you play on a platform that does not have achievements, do you think you would like them or do you think it wouldn’t matter to you?

0 thoughts on “Do Achievements/Trophies Matter (to you)?

  1. I have a similar approach to seeing trophies and achievements as being ways to get my money’s worth of a game. When I play games, I really like to delve into the world and dynamics of the game. I think it might also be an affect of having to constantly prove to my mother that playing games is something worthwhile, but when I unlock an achievement; I feel a sense of pride or accomplishment. It makes me feel as if my time is actually being rewarded instead of wasted. I think this is the same phenomena that makes losing saved progress so heartbreaking.

    It also elongates the amount of time I get to play a game. When I’m very invested in a game, I find that 100% it allows for a therapeutic and almost necessary closure. If I don’t find all the heart pieces and collect everything before the fight against Ganon, I would feel like I’m not doing this Zelda game justice. All in all, I really enjoy achievements because they prolong the live of a game, provide replayability, and highlight the intentions of the gamemakers.

    That, of course, is not the only way to keep a game alive. There are “fan made” achievements that are just as valuable as the PSN and XBox Live ones. Challenges like the Pokemon Nuzlocke or Project M Smash mods hold the same perks as the ones I mentioned above because they keep a fanbase alive and engaged.

  2. Mindlessly working towards the accumulation of awards and titles isn’t the exclusive domain of video games. Even in the professional world, where climbing ranks is matter of putting more food on the table, people often strive for the next level just for the sake of getting there. My brother, a former corrections officer, noticed that members of the riot squad walked around with gold badges. He eventually got onto the squad. When I asked him about his promotion, he didn’t mention the boost to his career or the difference in pay. He simply said “I wanted that gold badge.” Going after titles, in the virtual or physical world, is something we’ll always do regardless of utility. We just need a way to pass time in the void.

  3. I agree with Austin’s point that achievements are not limited to games.

    But for games, achievements are just like sprinkles on a cupcake for me, I could not care less if my cupcake had sprinkles on them or not, but they’re nice decorative factor to have. Being a completionist is a different story, I only like to 100% complete a game to get everything it has to offer is when that game ranks within my top 10 (e.g. Tales of Symphonia) or close enough. It is only when I just enjoy the game so much that yeah, Ill spend more time on it just cause I can and want to. Mindlessly getting achievement points/scores/badges is not something I would do.

  4. I’ve never been sold onto the idea of trying to pursue every achievement available. I’m naturally the exploring type, so I’ll check most nooks and crannies of the game world, but if the achievement requires me to actively pursue finding some hidden item, I find it detracts from the primary purpose of enjoyment and turns the game into a chore. One positive of achievements is being able to see my statistics in competitive games, especially in games like Team Fortress 2, where there’s a witty name or joke to accompany every specific accomplishment

  5. I agree with you.I think achievements are a great way to get you to explore the world and look for things and do tasks that you may not have done otherwise. However, I enjoy the sense of discovery by itself. I don’t need a number to go up to reward me because I have already been rewarded by finding something new. I think that while some achievements are good, some can be there just to test your limits to see if you can perfect the game which is kind of nuts if you ask me. I also think that people should play games to play games and achievements should not be the reason behind playing because some go for easy Gamerscore to have the number go up. If you go for achievements it should be your love for the game that drives you, not Gamerscore.

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