Some psychology behind achievements

There are two different ways people respond to challenges, depending on what do they want to do with their skills

  • Demonstrate their skills, they are interested in proving their performance
  • Improve their skills, they are interested in gaining mastery
This is supposedly learned at childhood, that means culture may have a strong influence in it, and thus Japanese culture may promote RPG games and in the United States FPS may be a more important trend, of course there are other factors that may have a stronger influence in these trends.
 
Undoubtedly there is a correlation between this personality trait and the style of games that a person may enjoy. Some games reward players for doing something that is just a matter of time, other games reward the player for acquiring a skill.
 
These skills may be useful in a different context, to start with, most probably the skills acquired playing an FPS are useful for other FPS games, unless there is a sort of overfitting, most probably the skills acquired to use covers (even to walk faster) in Gears of War cannot be used in Halo 3, but at least they are more generalizable than the skills a Fable II character may have, as most probably they won't be portable to Fable III. At the core of games there are some skills and dexterity that cannot be appreciated straightforward but for which chess is often praised and probably more modern (video) games would be too, if they were studied in more detail.
 
The sense of achievement in modern games varies between people and the reasons that cause this feeling probably depend on the type of game played, but they have to be linked with the capability of the person to abstract the details of the game and in some sense feel as relevant whatever is happening in it, finding some real relevance in something that is only fantasy
 
The eager for achievements has not been as deeply studied as other related topics, as competitiveness, which require further study too. But even if there are common patterns among people there are probably also important differences as happens with nearly every characteristic in human beings. This means some people have stronger tendency or likes for the achievement porn that may be video games and other activities.
 
This doesn't mean games should not be played, but they have to be put into context. With the exception of people whose work is related with them, games are just something to spend some time, relax, enjoy and be rested to do something else, something that is actually relevant for your life in a more efficient and effective way, as a consequence of resting before. The same way sleeping is important, leisure time is also important, and in that time people should not be forced to play games, practice sports, socialize or do any specific activity, spare time is spare, the mechanisms that forge personality and cause people to give more or less value to each activity are unknown to a great extent, and, at least as far as they are unknown, a change should not be forced for  the consequences may be very bad.
 
Games provide a easy way to achieve for those who have a great eager for achievement, and they have a personality fantasy prone enough so that the achievements got from games, very easily when compared with real life, are still rewarding despite of being virtual. But that is good only as far as that helps to achieve in real life. As it usually happens with hobbies, in the beginning they help to rest, they help to get new skills that may be generalized to other aspects of life and they have a positive effect on the person in general. If the person focuses too much on games and the consequences are negative for him or her then it may be an addiction and that would be a problem to solve, which means an additional opportunity to achieve something :)
 
gl, hf

PS: BTW. If you have a strong eager for achievement as I do, here is a trick to stay on (the real) track, make a ToDo list. Checking a list item may not be as rewarding as watching some cut-scene after completing a campaign in a great game, but it helps to stay accountable. Please let me know if you try and it is useful to you.
10 Comments
11 Comments
Posted by Trylks

There are two different ways people respond to challenges, depending on what do they want to do with their skills

  • Demonstrate their skills, they are interested in proving their performance
  • Improve their skills, they are interested in gaining mastery
This is supposedly learned at childhood, that means culture may have a strong influence in it, and thus Japanese culture may promote RPG games and in the United States FPS may be a more important trend, of course there are other factors that may have a stronger influence in these trends.
 
Undoubtedly there is a correlation between this personality trait and the style of games that a person may enjoy. Some games reward players for doing something that is just a matter of time, other games reward the player for acquiring a skill.
 
These skills may be useful in a different context, to start with, most probably the skills acquired playing an FPS are useful for other FPS games, unless there is a sort of overfitting, most probably the skills acquired to use covers (even to walk faster) in Gears of War cannot be used in Halo 3, but at least they are more generalizable than the skills a Fable II character may have, as most probably they won't be portable to Fable III. At the core of games there are some skills and dexterity that cannot be appreciated straightforward but for which chess is often praised and probably more modern (video) games would be too, if they were studied in more detail.
 
The sense of achievement in modern games varies between people and the reasons that cause this feeling probably depend on the type of game played, but they have to be linked with the capability of the person to abstract the details of the game and in some sense feel as relevant whatever is happening in it, finding some real relevance in something that is only fantasy
 
The eager for achievements has not been as deeply studied as other related topics, as competitiveness, which require further study too. But even if there are common patterns among people there are probably also important differences as happens with nearly every characteristic in human beings. This means some people have stronger tendency or likes for the achievement porn that may be video games and other activities.
 
This doesn't mean games should not be played, but they have to be put into context. With the exception of people whose work is related with them, games are just something to spend some time, relax, enjoy and be rested to do something else, something that is actually relevant for your life in a more efficient and effective way, as a consequence of resting before. The same way sleeping is important, leisure time is also important, and in that time people should not be forced to play games, practice sports, socialize or do any specific activity, spare time is spare, the mechanisms that forge personality and cause people to give more or less value to each activity are unknown to a great extent, and, at least as far as they are unknown, a change should not be forced for  the consequences may be very bad.
 
Games provide a easy way to achieve for those who have a great eager for achievement, and they have a personality fantasy prone enough so that the achievements got from games, very easily when compared with real life, are still rewarding despite of being virtual. But that is good only as far as that helps to achieve in real life. As it usually happens with hobbies, in the beginning they help to rest, they help to get new skills that may be generalized to other aspects of life and they have a positive effect on the person in general. If the person focuses too much on games and the consequences are negative for him or her then it may be an addiction and that would be a problem to solve, which means an additional opportunity to achieve something :)
 
gl, hf

PS: BTW. If you have a strong eager for achievement as I do, here is a trick to stay on (the real) track, make a ToDo list. Checking a list item may not be as rewarding as watching some cut-scene after completing a campaign in a great game, but it helps to stay accountable. Please let me know if you try and it is useful to you.
Posted by Kyreo

The same can be said about any real challenge in life.  Humans behave similarly in similar situations and Achievements are just another outlet for proving performance capabilities.

Posted by Fallen189

Ye old carrot on ze stick

Online
Posted by SSully

Cool post, i like all the links to added in there, it was like reading an interesting assignment for a class. The thing about achievements that  racks my brain is people who prioritize achievements over the game. Now im not talking about beating a game and then replaying it just for trophies, im talking about people who buy really crappy games just for the achievements. I had a friend that went out of his way to spend 20 dollars on some random cheesy saffari game for the 360 for some quick achievements. Maybe its just me, but i cant justify spending 20 dollars in order to improve my gamer score.

Posted by Jeust

 There are two different ways people respond to challenges, depending on what do they want to do with their skills 

  • Demonstrate their skills, they are interested in proving their performance
  • Improve their skills, they are interested in gaining mastery    
There are also people that ignore it altogether. 
 
I don't like competition, and when something is as meaningless and impossible to succeed as achievements, i just ignore it. I like to see them popping in my games, and look at my score and be overwhelmed by it, but not more than that. 
Posted by Trylks
@Jeust: then you are probably more interested in mastery instead of very hard things.
@SSully: ty, keep in mind that achievements here has a broader sense.
@Fallen189: yes, but the way the carrot looks like matters a lot, we could speak of two types of carrots.
@Kyreo: one of the points of the post is exactly that, that games are just fantasy, they are not real, that's part of the rationale for the comparison with porn.
 
Thank you all for your comments.
 
After two months without games I'm realizing how much I miss those, I still have one month ahead without games, and that will not be a problem in fact, but I'm glad I'll get some after that month.
Posted by Bennyishere

I am a big fan of achievements, but in my case it is the sense of completion. I will not buy a game solely for the achievements, but when I buy a game for the gameplay and/or story I feel a great need to get as many achievements in that game as I can. I don't understand people who only play a game for an hour and then trade it. I was the same way on the Xbox and the N64 before that. I even completed Fuel, a tedious and boring game that took 40 hours or so in order to get 100% of the achievements so that, even if I did not enjoy it thoroughly, I still completed it to the fullest and when I saw the last achievement pop up, I could finally put the game back in my shelf and feel like I had completed everything the game threw at me. I will also often buy DLC just because it has achievements or because it is a game I like, so that I can make sure I complete that as well.
 
However, multiplayer achievements conflict with this because I get really stressed out by multiplayer. I often literally get the shakes as I enter a lobby because anything competitive with actual human beings stresses me out because of my fear of humiliation. I am luckily good at many of the games I play, which makes it better as I am not being dominated.
 
I have gone without games before, but I substituted them for movies and TV shows and even gave anime a chance. So there is obviously still a need for me to pass time. Then again I will become a Game Design student in a couple of weeks, so maybe I will make new friends and get a job on the side so that I have more things to do.

Posted by PeasantAbuse

@Bennyishere:
That first paragraph is exactly how I am.  My big thing is that out of all of my friends, I'm the only one with that goes for achievements so my score is waaaaaay higher then everyone elses.  This causes lot's of insults to be thrown my way, mainly the classic "no life" (which is actually pretty spot on for the most part).  I'm kind of dreading pushing past 40k because then shit is going to get real bad.

Edited by Trylks
@Bennyishere: is there even a career about that or what kind of studies are those? That's great and definitively doesn't exist in Spain.
 
@PeasantAbuse: I like to finish what I start, so I'll end whatever game I start, except tetris and potentially infinite games. About collecting every item in the game and that stuff, I only do that as far as it is fun. For me it is all about how hard it is to do something, attaching a grenade to an enemy (NPC or human in multiplayer) as in GeoW is an "achievement" to me, since you achieve to kill that character, and if you jump and get the person who attached the grenade to you to explode with you that's another achievement. For me it has to be in the right difficulty, if it is too easy then it is boring, if it is too hard then it is frustrating. It's like artificial curiosity and artificial art (there are several hundreds of links about artificial art and entropy, if someone is interested ask me, I assume you don't care, so nvm).
 
It feels great and is fun, even if it is kind of porn, because it isn't real, it's not like you did something as good in studies/work/personal relationships/sports/..., which would have a greater influence in your life, or at least has the potential to have some influence at all. I'd like to be able to stay focused on reality 100% of the time, but I guess the time I evade from it helps to cope with the frustration and boredom when reality seems not to have the right difficulty settings. Maybe it's just rationalization, but studies/word can be too hard or too easy sometimes, frustrating or boring, which leads to burnout and boreout respectively, games help to cope with those, IMHO.
 
Next time someone says you should not play games you can use my rationalization, but remember to cite me, I like the fame :)
 
WRT movies and that stuff, I forgot about those, next week I'll probably have windows and thus flash, I'll probably watch some fullmetal alchemist brotherhood in hulu, if I get to find it again. Or maybe not, the future is uncertain...
Edited by Bennyishere
@Trylks: 
It appears you learn Java in the first year and how to write game designs and project management in the second and third years. So a Game Design degree can be applicable in TV producing and such as well. A couple of students who went where I am going (a private school here in Norway) are working for Bioware and Funcom to name the ones they featured. Having had an abnormally high passion for videogames since I was six years old, it was only logical for me to pursue a career in it, even if it doesn't pay much. And I guess it will kind of mix reality with gaming a bit as videogames will become profitable for me and I am finally creating my own videogame stories.
Posted by Trylks
@Bennyishere: that's great, if you ever find where does a PhD on AI fit in all that tell me :)