Ah, trophies. How wonderful you were to me when you first became a part of gaming. I enjoyed hoarding you, I enjoyed comparing how many of you I had to my friends and, perhaps most of all, I enjoyed that little "bwing" noise you made. It was a song of my accomplishment, a ballad that gave me gratification to hear. But like an old flame, you're nothing more to me now than bittersweet memories and wisdom gained. Your siren song - bwing! - no longer steers my hand.
For a while now, I've found myself actually finishing fewer and fewer games. This was easy to pawn off as a symptom of a fuller life - a more rewarding job and a loving family meant less time for games. But I've come to realize that it wasn't my career or family that was impacting my gaming, it was my hunt for gold (and bronze, silver and platinum).
Even before starting a game, I would look at the trophy list. God forbid there was one for completing a game on the hardest difficulty and I missed it. Not collect everything? Not complete Insanity difficulty? Not save before a critical path choice was to be made? Not on my watch! Instead of being a bonus for inventive play or as a sign of my deep enjoyment for a game, trophies became my reason for playing in the first place. I didn't feel like I had truly "finished" a game unless I got every trophy I wanted.
Playing games became more of a chore than enjoyment. My need for these non-existant baubles was so strong that I would be planning my second and third playthroughs of a game while I first played it...for games I didn't even like. I've played games for fun and as a social event for my entire life, until trophies came along.
More recently, I decided to completely ignore them unless it seems like they were made to be funny, in which case I look at them in hopes of a decent joke from the developers. I also like that they show anyone who is interested what my favorite and most-played games are. But otherwise they exist to me no longer. Unsurprisingly, I've circled around to actually having fun with games again. I've been finishing more and more of them as well.
I've missed out on what should have been one of the high points of gaming. Many amazing titles have come out that I missed getting any enjoyment from. I was too worried about popping certain trophies, and I can never get that back. But the current generation of consoles marks a new era, one in which I play simply to play. Bring it on, Sony. Bring it on, Microsoft. Show me the fun :D