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?