By Rowr 19 Comments
While trying to decide whether or not i should purchase Raze Hell (a game that intrigues me) from the originals section of xbla, i realised that if the game came with any sort of achievement points, it would likely sweeten the deal enough for me to be swayed into the purchase...
...While playing Bioshock i decided to chance downloading the free content pack for the game, hoping it wouldn't force me to restart my game as it advertised. Well turns out i was able to load my save, but i came to realise there may have been an effect, as all the big daddies and little sisters for that one section seemed to have dissapeared completely from my loaded game. At this point i will likely never play through the entire game, as much as i try and persuade myself to do so...
I'm the sort of person who, if cannot play a game "right", is dissuaded from playing at all. Achievements add a whole new level to my completionist struggle. As someone who does not regularly have a lot of time to play games anymore, an achievement list can represent a daunting challenge to my sanity. Being blackmailed by an achievements list into adjusting the way you play a game can be opressive and so far i have fought valiantly against them controlling me. I refuse to study the list pre-game and submitting to altering my experience.
Of course once i get through the game and do check the achievements outstanding, the majority of the time i am not inclined to play through again for the sake of Gamerscore.
So do I hate achievement's?
NO! I love to recieve achievements and despite these situation which were harmful to my game experiences, for the most part I consider achievements a positive element to my gaming. Im sure many of you can identify with that warm feeling we get when the small bell tolls and that little bubble pops up. They are game "sweetener's", which help to provoke progression and interest in the same way in-game unlockables always have.
On some deep level they communicate to us, they represent progress and payoff for invested time and work. For some, gamerscore acts as a way to proudly express their accomplishments to their fellow gamer, and just like in every form of competition, people are willing to take questionable measures to get ahead. Others wear their gamerscore in the upmost honour, proud for the fact Avatar: The Last Airbender is absent from their list, or the fact that they have maximum achievement points per game played.
So while i struggle to keep acheivement's from controlling my experiences (thus myself), I am still able to enjoy them on what you might call a more "casual" level. But how are things going to change in the future? How much further will the concept evolve? Let's look at a few recent applications.
By now many of you who suscribe to Xbox Live may have downloaded the recently made available free advergame, Dash of Destruction and earned an easy 200G. The act of releasing this is confirmation that Gamerscore has been recognized as having sway in the market. Fortunately the presentation of this game is excellent in the way it doesnt take the content seriously at all, the gameplay is short and sweet, and the writing is brilliant. The points act as the primary incentive to play, and to its credit, rather than trying to cover this up the game plays into the fact. Is the content worth your time without the points? I would say yes. The game doesnt overstay its welcome making it hard to criticise it as a waste of your time, the inclusion of some local multiplayer shenanigans adds to its value. Had Live play been made available, I could see this game tripling its replay value.
Another recent commentary on the topic comes in the form of the flash game Achievement Unlocked.
The metagame is the game, and it's suprisingly fun. Everything you do in this game results in achievements, and the only win state seems to be getting them all. It really demonstrates the ability of the mechanic to stand on its own.
Now reading over this blog, it might start to sound a little bit silly the amount of importance people put on this simple concept. Many are of the opinion that achievements are a waste of time. But does not that same argument apply to anything we do in the grand scheme of things? Everything in humanity is controlled by the limits of a person(s) mind. Importance is a human concept, defined on a case by case basis, importance is self appointed. Thats right. WE ALL LIVE IN THE MATRIX.
So how much importance do you put on achievement's?