Saturday, April 26, 2008

Achievement Addiction

As some of my previous posts have indicated, I'm what is known as an "Achievement Whore". I've claimed as such in the past and I won't ever deny it, but being one sees me questioned regularly as to why I take pleasure in obtaining achievements and boosting my Gamerscore. So now I think it's time for an explanation.

First and foremost, I do not go after achievements because of the Gamerscore. An unfortunate misconception that has come with the otherwise very decent addition to gaming is that people only go after the achievements because of the score and unfortunately, in most cases, this is true. One simple browse of a website like will show you many people's Gamertags and a list of games that these people have played purely to boost their score. There is a lot of easy point games out there and these people have purchased or rented them all just to quickly add another thousand points to their score.

Not everyone enjoys obtaining achievements for the score though and I fall under this latter category; I can't speak for anyone else but I personally go after achievements because I am a completionist.

For as long as I have been playing games, I have been trying my utmost hardest to complete each and every game I play to the best of my ability. This is evident through my intentions to return to some older games I have that I am still yet to finish, or haven't played yet for whatever reason.

The same applies to the achievement system for me and is an extension of sorts of what I would already be doing anyway. If the 360 didn't have the achievement system, I would still be trying to finish the games to the best of my ability. Be that through collecting objects (Orbs in Crackdown) or completing a game on various difficulties (Insane in Gears of War, Hard in BioShock) - it's something I would do regardless of whether the achievements were there. Thankfully they are there and it has now added to my gaming as a result.

Achievements have added to the way I play games for a few reasons. It could be that I am returning to a game after finishing it originally because downloadable content has added some more achievements. Or it could be that I'm playing these games differently and doing something I wouldn't otherwise normally do because there's an achievement for doing so, an example being the puzzle achievements in Project Gotham Racing 4 and trying to figure them out. Or it could simply be because of the fact that the achievement system is a public demonstration of the type of gamer that I am and while sure, a Gamerscore that is pushing 30k might suggest that I do it for the score, a simple look through the games I own and have finished would reveal that the reason my score is high is because I have done everything I absolutely can in these games.

It's something I am proud of actually because as I mentioned above, the majority of gamers have obtained high Gamerscores through abusing the easy point games. When I see examples of this and compare them to my own, I can't help but feel proud knowing that I am matching their scores because I took the time and effort to complete and get the most out of my games.

Which brings me to another point, the achievement system and the fact that it is public can certainly bring out a competitive side to gaming as well. That has more to do with obtaining score than it does achievements though and relates back to the days of Tetris and Pac Man in the Arcades where gamers would try and beat their opposition by getting a higher score. This is both a good and bad aspect of the system and the use of it really depends on who you are as a gamer.

Hopefully that explains why I like to obtain achievements. If it doesn't, well just know that Gamerscore is completely irrelevant to me.

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