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Playing to achieve, complete, or enjoy?
Posted on Tuesday, March 4 2014 @ 16:38:29 Eastern

I read the article, “Gamer Earns 500 Platinum Trophies, Makes a Real-life Platinum Trophy” and it reminded me of Ryan Bates piece, an “Irrational Divide” and a piece by Daniel Bischoff called, “I Got a Top Score in Call of Duty”. What the three pieces had in common for me was the focus of why we play. When you have spent so much of a finite asset (time) on attaining 500 Platinum trophies what really is there to show for it? Some would say nothing…which may be why the gamer (Blackangel887462) chose to create his own “real” achievement.  In the comments section of Daniel’s piece Ghost wrote, “Ohh someone wants a cookie…” This speaks to the point of, what exactly do achievements/trophies mean outside of the value the individual places on them.
 
If Ryan was being accurate with his dates, then I was born just 3 years prior to those plumbers coming on the scene and was able to experience the predecessor of today’s gamer score and worldwide leader boards. Growing up in Philadelphia in the 90’s we didn’t have a washer and dryer so we had to go to the laundromat, which in and of itself was not a very cool ordeal, with one caveat. In my neighborhood the laundromat was also home to our neighborhood leader boards…what? At that time in history we had full blown arcades but you could also find gaming cabinets in most places you would find parents and kids for prolonged periods of time, such as supermarkets and laundromats.
 
This was the golden age of $.25 videogames. Our leader boards were found on the, “Top Score” screen of games like Mortal Kombat, Street Fighter, PacMan, etc…You would hassle your parents for quarter after quarter and most kids didn’t make the Top Score screen either for lack of continues/quarters or skill. It then segmented the kids in the neighborhood between those who could play pretty well and those who made the board (usually teenagers). At that time, the achievement seemed tangible as you could direct your friends to that particular game and show them your accomplishment. It meant something…games were new and it wasn’t about competing against 100s or 1000s just 10-20 kids in the neighborhood which is why to me it seemed a bit more significant back then.
 
As home consoles became more prevalent, the competition continued but the microcosm of perceived virtual dominance shrank to mostly your friends. Same “Top Score” screen, but the bragging rights were relegated to a sole console.  If you wanted your score shown on your buddy’s console you had to beat it at their place on their game. It was a dandy ole time. The variance in types of games increased and the focus of gamers also diversified. Some gamers retained a strong focus on those competitive arcade titles like Killer Instinct, MK, and SF while others found more pleasure in games like DK Country and Super Metroid, etc…The biggest difference was that not everyone was competitive due simply to their nature or choice of games. How competitive can you really get in Super Metroid or DK Country? You could do a speed run but with no YouTube back then who gave a ****?
 
Now we jump forward to the current scheme of trophies and achievements for all games. You like, “Linger in the Shadows” it has trophies, you like CoD it has achievements. Is the point of both those games to achieve or does one simply seek to be experienced? I understand the motivation to attach trophies and achievements to every game but do they at times diminish the overall experience? It is perceived by some, that since they are not required you could ignore them all together with certain games but does the inclusion of them by design inherently change your behavior pattern? I would argue that the inclusion of trophies and achievements to all games has fundamentally changed how we interact with games as a whole. I don’t think the desire to achieve vs simply complete or enjoy can be attributed solely to a generational gap. The idea that some gamers look at achievements and then to GameFaqs for walkthroughs on their first playthrough doesn’t speak to a difference in perception based on age but rather we have been conditioned as a gaming community to view games very differently than they once were.
 
I guess the overall point I was trying to elude to in this piece is that regardless of age we are all tempted to some extent to seek out achievements or trophies but shouldn't lose focus on the point of the game which is to entertain and be enjoyed. I guess we may have to deal with the fact that trophies will be included with every new game but sometimes it’s nice to simply ignore the trophies/achievements and walkthroughs to simply enjoy the game for what it provides…an entertaining moment in time. Finally, I would look at “Blackangel887462” and consider that regardless of the girth of your e-penis the value of your video gaming accomplishments are typically relegated to what “you” perceive it to be…even if you are in the top 1% of THE WORLD.
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