Are achievements and trophies changing the way we play games?

February 19, 2013

This console generation has brought about many new and exciting things, including achievements on Xbox 360 and trophies on PlayStation 3. Whatever you call them, they have changed the way that we play games, for better or worse.

I will admit; I am a trophy hunter. I’m always trying to get as many trophies as possible when I play. While achievements and trophies are a cool and exciting addition to games, they also have the potential to be detrimental to the way we play video games.

When we used to play games, we played them because we simply enjoyed gaming. We didn’t need to get a trophy or achievement to feel satisfied with a game; finding shortcuts in racing games or even simply finishing a game was enough to make us happy.

Today, simply completing the story mode of a game is just not enough. We must collect every treasure, find every Playboy magazine, and unlock every lockbox. Why do we do this? It is because we really love the games we are playing, or because we want to show off for our friends?

Social networking, in general, has affected the way we act and the things we do, and I believe it has affected the way we game as well. The 360 and PS3 both allow you to share your achievements/trophies with your Facebook friends. Playfire is a social network created specifically for gaming. Your friends will always see what you’re playing and how many achievements/trophies you have earned. And, of course, these things can be shared to Facebook. Does this drive us to play games, even really bad ones, just to boost our Gamerscore/PSN level?

I have heard of people purchasing really bad games just because they have a lot of trophies. One game that is known to have one of the easiest platinums is Megamind: Ultimate Showdown. Apparently, the platinum trophy can be earned in less than three hours. If the only platinum you have is for a game like this, that doesn’t count.

Admit it—as soon as you get that achievement/trophy that you’ve been working on for weeks or even months, you post a status about it or even directly share it to your Facebook wall (excuse me, “Timeline.”)

One can only wonder if we are, while maybe subconsciously, playing games solely to impress others.

I will admit that when I was trying to decide whether to buy Sleeping Dogs on PC or PS3, I ultimately chose PS3 because I wanted to get the trophies and try for the platinum. I know there are achievements on Steam, but maybe, just maybe, I wanted others to see my trophies in their news feeds.

By getting achievements/trophies in games, we get a false sense of accomplishment. Maybe those of us who aren’t really happy with our lives are the same people who are achievement/trophy hunters. Getting a platinum trophy or 1000G in a game is the gaming equivalent of getting an A+ on a test or getting a raise at a job.

While I do believe that achievements/trophies have changed the way we game in a bad way, I also believe that they have had a positive aspect on the way we game.

If you look at it from a monetary aspect, when you get every single achievement/trophy in a game, you are getting your full money’s worth. People who don’t have much money for games usually try to complete their games 100 percent, because they feel that is the only way to really make the game worth the $60 bucks that they paid for it.

Remember the reason you started gaming in the first place; it wasn’t for the trophies or the achievements: it was for the sheer joy of gaming. You should play games because you truly love doing it. So sit back, relax, and just enjoy the unique and wonderful world of gaming.