For better or worse, achievements and trophies have covertly slipped into the very anatomy of video games and are now likely there to stay, like a permanent, viral memento from our wonderful time with the “seventh generation” of gaming. Undoubtedly, it is one that has gamers somewhat divided. Some love hunting for trophies/achievements, while others feel like it is a sign of genetic inferiority that needs to go away, or we risk a “doomsday scenario” (yes, those exact words have been used).
The nay-sayers do have a point. We’ve all had to hop around game servers, looking for a simple multiplayer match, only to keep encountering a bunch of weirdos, in the middle of some achievement-related shit, demanding that you leave that instant, like you’ve just walked in on someone unattractive, fondling themselves. It can also be damaging to the multiplayer “scene” by making it a pain in the ass to find a decent game. And then, there are also the admittedly retarded achievements that test your patience and willingness to senselessly murder time, rather than any actual skill. But not every complaint makes sense and it’s time I responded to those on record:
4. “I just want to enjoy my game, without worrying about trophies!”
This is a common one and my answer is simple: if you don’t care about achievements because you just want to play the game, then don’t care about them and just play the fucking game… I mean, when was the last time a game said to you: “you either drop what you’re doing and juggle these severed limbs for ten seconds or I scratch the fucking disc. Right. Now.” See, just because someone wrote instructions, it doesn’t mean that you have to do what they say.
To be fair, one of the achievements required looking fucking intense while playing.
I mean, open a men’s magazine with that attitude and you’ll shortly find yourself in an emergency room with a badly damaged “junk”, sobbing and begging them to let you know if your date is OK (follow the tips in a women’s mag and neither of you will make it that far). I’m here to tell you that you are free to ignore anything you want in a video game (or magazine), except for maybe paying for it. If you play Metal Gear Solid 4 now after it has received a trophy patch, you can play the same exact chill way as before, except that it will occasionally shyly congratulate you for doing something it finds impressive, via a small and unassuming pop up (feature you can even turn off in many cases). If that ruins your game, then I’d like to know the title of it because that must be some immersive shit!
3. “Gamerscore is useless!”
What this basically says is two things. One is that the reason we care about achievements or trophies is only gamerscore or a trophy count. Two is that we only care about gamerscore or a trophy count because that’s how we expect to pay for things in the real world.
I for one agree. It would also be cooler to be able buy stuff with my collection of used Band-Aids.
As Gamasutra pointed out, in their excellent article on this very topic, where they quote actual shrinks and shit: we have an inkling to hoard and earn random things all the time, whether it’s money, Pokemons, or empty beer cans, even when we don’t need to. It’s human nature! Scrooge McDuck didn’t collect all those coins so he could swim in them; he dove into that shit to celebrate the fact that he was able to amass so much fucking dough! Hoarding itself, in its’ various forms, gives us, humans and ducks, emotional satisfaction. That’s why so many video games have you collecting random shit for no apparent reason. It’s pleasing to us! Seriously, name a game and chances are there is a hundred of some useless bullshit hidden around its’ “world” for you to collect and you, yes you, have gone out of your way to get some of it, even though nobody ever promised you its’ equivalent in cash. If I’m wrong, then simply put: you are a terrible person, possibly a dentist, and you have no soul.
2. “I don’t need acknowledgement!”
I’ve had someone say this to me: “If I want to play a game a certain way, I don’t need someone patting me on the back for it, I will just do so, OK?” Well, first, if you don’t give a fuck about acknowledgement, why does it bother you so much? Or are you just using the opportunity to talk about yourself and slip in some humble bragging, to let the Internet know that you plain don’t give a shit?
Could that have been written by anyone but this guy?
But more importantly, how often do you get the idea to kick a corpse all the way to the end of a level, for instance? You probably don’t because that would be pretty fucking stupid but what if someone tested that and made sure that it wasn’t only possible but also challenging and fun, and let you know? What if an Avengers game said to you that it was possible to clear out an enemy-infested section by shooting a BB-gun at Hulk’s ass? Then would you perhaps come back to the game after you finished it and play around, doing things like that just to do them? Would you not appreciate having someone take a minute to test and tweak that random in-game activity just so you could spend some additional time with a game if you wanted to? Do you, the reader, realize by now that every sentence in this entry has been a question? Annoying but do you know what I mean though?
1. “What’s the point?”
Possibly the biggest argument against achievements/trophies is that there is obviously no point to them in the grand scheme of things. When you really think about it, they are a series of pointless challenges that reward you by simply saying: “you just did that.” Seriously, it’s like a needless and useless fucking optional headache with no payoff, kind of like that show Portlandia.
And we, gamers, have better shit to do!
Except that one can also describe the medium of video games that same exact way. Part of what you do, while playing, is willingly engage in a series of pointless challenges whether it’s a cut-scene that tells you to do them or an achievement. Really, you aren’t exactly curing cancer when you’re sitting on that couch, filling your crack with a soup of sweat and Cheeto dust, stroking the nobs of an orange-y controller. I’d like to live in a world where that’s “doing something better”. Let’s be honest here, what this crowd really complains about is being offered more optional challenges (albeit some that have little to do with… anything), in addition to the collection of the optional challenges they just paid money for. That’s like complaining about movie studios, the jerks, putting those extra and deleted scenes on a DVD, that you can choose to watch if you want. I mean, how the fuck dare they?