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Achievement Unlocked

It’s sunny and hot. I just shot down an enemy jet in a fierce dogfight, then had to eject as his buddy came to his aid. While freefalling towards the Earth I see the tan outline of an Abrams tank and adjust my body so I descend in that direction. Landing on top of the armored vehicle I make my way inside and venture into the raging land battle before me. Two more kills I think to myself. Two more.  The first building I come upon is under friendly assault so I decide to lend a steel hand and blow away a few walls with high explosive shells. Some poor soul thought that he was safe. One more. At the top of a building I see the glint of a sniper scope but the buildings elevation is too great for my tank to suffice. I jump out and, while dodging fire, make my way inside. I climb two sets of stairs with my assault rifle drawn. Atop the third set I see two pairs of feet cautiously start to descend. I level my F2000 and loose a stream of lead into the doorway. Kills confirmed. Then I hear “the pop”. Achievement earned.

Achievements (or Trophies) have become an integral part in every video game. Whether they are rewarded to you when you complete the game or when you accomplish some miscellaneous task, “Chievos” are one of the biggest factors in a game’s playability. If a player feels unrewarded while playing through a game then they’re less likely to continue.

There is an art to the achievement. If a game gives out too many, you’ll feel like you’re being patronized, too few and you feel cheated. Then there’s the difficulty of said Achievements. If all of the Achievements are so easy to earn that you grab most of them while playing then they are a waste of time. Likewise if you have to spend hours on each one you’ll lose interest. It’s a delicate balance between the two. I don’t mind getting a Chievo after I complete each chapter, that’s nice. And if I’m gonna earn a couple on accident then make them badass, like in Max Payne 3 with all of its Free-Aim Achievements. I felt really awesome after I earned each one.

Then there’s the stupid, find and seek achievements that litter games. Nobody wants to go around and shoot every TV with Al Asad’s speech on it (Call of Duty 4) and most people really don’t want to find the 24 stones of Barenziah littered across Skyrim. Assassin’s Creed Revelations did it right when they made your search for the small and mundane a quest to unlock more story. Blowing up TVs makes no sense to me.

Achievement hunting has become an obsession for some, who will play as many games as possible just to rack up as many as they can. I, personally, can’t do that, I’d get way too aggravated. But hey I am always jealous of someone if they have one more Chievo in a game than I do.

It’s really interesting that such a small aspect of a game could mean so much to me. Achievements can’t take more than a day or so to implement, maybe a week, but in the grand scheme of the tedious process of developing a title that is nothing. Yet here I am saying that I would dislike a game if the achievements didn’t make me feel rewarded. Maybe it’s just the fact that the games have them. Maybe that’s why I feel like I need them, I thought. So I tried to play a few of my old PS2 games.

It was really depressing…

I played games I remembered loving. I put in the Ubisoft-made XIII , a game I remember passionately and frequently. The absence of Achievements made the game kinda boring. I was always expecting “the pop”. I didn’t want to admit it but I needed that aesthetic popping noise to make me feel good when I did something. It really is a little disturbing. What is it that makes us feel like we need these?

What do you think? Are Achievements and trophies as important to you as they are to me or do you think that they are a waste of space? This is just my opinion.  A few staffers here at Leviathyn were kind enough to share their thoughts. Share yours as well.

 

Jason

One view of my gamertag or PSN ID shows much Achievements mean to me. I only have full Trophies/Achievements in one full retail release: inFAMOUS. I never got into the whole Achievement hoarding thing, it never interested me.

However, I do love the ultra-satisfying Trophy or Achievement chime I hear when I beat a game. That’s awesome.

 

Cassidee

I’m kind of a newcomer to the Achievement-hunting craze, but I can attest to the fact that it really does add weight to my gameplay decisions now.

What do I like about them? It’s hard to really put a finger on one specific answer. I like that it adds to my Gamerscore and that I can watch that number rise. I like knowing that I just accomplished something outside of the normal gameplay that gives me some bragging rights. I like that it offers me a chance to explore a game a bit more, especially if it’s a game I really enjoy playing. And there’s something about the 360’s pop when you earn one…it’s like songbirds on a cool summer morning. Just a bit of magic that makes happy shoot straight through my head.

 

Williams

Before such things as “Gamerscore” and “Trophies” for playing games existed, actual achievements in-game would only come in the form of unlockable content. Maybe a new fighter or a new stage, or new costumes, but they were all considered “achievements.” Looking at this psychologically, Achievements are not necessary at all, but they feel so damn good when you here that ping on your 360 or PS3. Those achievement points or trophies we get from playing 360/PS3 games make us feel good because they are manifestations of the good job that we might be doing. At the same time, they drive us to do even more. Sure, you got an achievement from beating a specific stage, but what about the achievement for doing a specific move?

These achievements constantly reward us for our efforts, resulting in us feeling awesome on the inside. As such, one can become almost addicted to achievement-getting. It’s the same logic as when people who constantly go on Facebook feel awesome when they see that they have notifications. Are achievements necessary? Of course not. Even so, they feel so damn good.



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