The "Achievement Era"

This morning while listening to the bombcast, Jeff mentioned in an offhand way the emergence of what he called the "Achievement Era"in gaming. The three main outlets for serious gamers (Xbox 360, PS3, and Steam) have now all embraced some form of achievement system. At first, this seems to be an innocuous, fun addition to games. It gives you some sort of incentive to beat the game on hard, plus a system of perks if you do something particularly special over the course of the game.
 
The problem is that (this is true for myself and others I know) the achievement system activates the perfectionist, detail oriented side of my personality. It is a head game that I am playing with myself, to be sure, since achievements have no value in the real world and very few people even in the gaming community look at which achievements other people have earned. So, when I see a game that I have "finished" or beaten to my satisfaction, I feel I should put the game down and play something new. But when you have this arbitrary point system for the game that is telling you, "Hey not so fast, looks like you completed less than 20% of this here game, mister!" it changes my perspective. Devil May Cry 4 is a good example of this. The game is an entertaining, artistically impressive little adventure, but not necessarily one that merits more than one, maybe two playthroughs. I have beaten this game, and had a good time, but looking at my achievement list for the game, one would think that I had barely touched it. I have 110 out of a possible 1000, and frankly there is no way that I would ever dedicate the amount of time needed to get more than 2 or 3 hundred points out of it, total.

Another problem, if I can call it that, lies with multiplayer achievements, especially in outdated games. I bought a used copy of Stranglehold and played it for a little while, then decided to try out the multiplayer component. There was literally not a single person online playing the game. A huge proportion of the achievements for that game are inexplicably online only, multiplayer achievements. These achievements are unattainable to your average gamer, seeing as you would have to gather a group of friends online who all owned a copy of the game in order to get them. Should there ever be achievements that are not just difficult, but actually IMPOSSIBLE to complete?
 
All this is leading to is that I think there should be some sort of tracker on the system that just says, "Yep, you beat this game. Good job." Most of us don't have the time or dedication to obtain 100% of the achievements in most, perhaps any, of the games that we buy. I think that we as gamers almost owe it to ourselves, along with the game developers, to actually BEAT the games we do buy, though, and experience the entire story that they present. Having a system that tells you that although you have "beaten" a game, you are at an abysmal 11% completion percentage almost creates a disincentive to play and beat new games. After all, you aren't really "beating" any of them. You may as well put it down right in the middle and say fuck it, this level is too hard. It won't make a difference to my completion percentage.
 
This would be my proposal (seeing as Microsoft, Sony, and Valve are unlikely to implement a system like this anytime soon): on GiantBomb's profile achievement page, add a "Completed" checkmark column. Link it to the achievement for completing the game at the lowest difficulty level, and add another pie chart that shows the number of games that you have "beaten" in this way. I think this would be an awesome way to reward people (at least the ones who frequent this site) for finishing a game, without regard to outrageously difficult or downright impossible achievements.

17 Comments