May 29, 2014

Tales of Opinia: Trophies & Achievements

So it's been a while since I've done something different here, and I've had this blog type chambered away pretty much since the beginning, I just hadn't the time or content to tap one out. Tales of Opinia blogs are - you guessed it - opinion pieces. As always, you are free to disagree with me, but I'm going to try to shed some light on who I am and why I feel the way I do about certain aspects of the gaming industry. I'm always looking for inspiration or motivation regarding content, so if there is something you'd like me to discuss in a blog, please get in touch with me and share, and I will try to oblige.

Today's case in point: trophies and achievements, and why I don't like them. Let's start with the obvious incoming disclaimer: these are MY opinions. I understand a blog could easily be written to the opposite tune of this one. In fact, I could probably rhyme off a few great things about trophies and achievements, but that is not the purpose of this blog. If you are a trophy/achievement whore (I say that affectionately), that's fine. By all means. I don't hate you. I'm just saying I don't particularly care for this system. Quick warning: my mouth comes out in this blog. Sorry.

We didn't have trophies and achievements when I started gaming. We did have high scores, but after arcades, gaming became a very personal thing, and so did your scores. If you had the good fortune(…?) to grow up with siblings, close neighbors or friends who never went home, maybe you still had a little competition, but it was between you and the people you cared for. Your biggest enemy was you.

Thanks to the internet, high scores are back on a global scale, and this time it takes more than a number of barrels smashed, ghosts eaten or screens completed to impress somebody. Now, every game comes equipped with a to do list for gamers, and if you want the numbers, you're to conquer this list. This brings me to my first peeve: since when was gaming about accomplishing what the someone tells you to? In my heyday, we had the most fun trying to pick games apart and find a million other ways to enjoy them. We didn't need any motivation for this, if it was a good game, we played it a lot.
I specialize in RPGs. They're my genre, I just love them. Always have. There is plenty reward in these games alone, but I've noticed that the trophies/achievements typically attached to this genre are usually ridiculous and/or virtually unobtainable, or just part of the general gameplay - impossible to miss or sidequest related. What is the point in this? In the days of retro, half the fun of games was discovering things on your own, we were never challenged by a list!

I don't think it's a secret that this system was invented largely as a tactic to sell more units and fool you into believing a game has replay value, instead of enjoying (or not) a game for what it is.
The game is over when I say it's over, not when I "platinum" or score all the points.

Which game are you even playing? The game that loads of people poured time and money into to develop for you, or the game of "I want a higher score than everybody else"? It's public knowledge that people have found ways to cheat these systems to inflate their numbers, and some people play games strictly for the trophies and achievements (how do people have time for that?!), which I don't even understand. I actually lose respect for people who say things like "That game sucks, I only played it for the trophies." If a game sucks, it sucks. Walk away.
Also, how can you really enjoy a game when you're under the stress of trying to "platinum" it? I've seen what some of these games ask of you and it's absurd, the time and skill they expect of people. There are many sidequests in games (lightning dodge, anyone?) that are much too infuriating for me to attempt every time I play, and they usually have in-game rewards. If I won't do it for that advantage, I sure as hell won't do it for a trophy/achievement. And then there's the task of unmasking hidden trophies/achievements. No thanks, I got shit to do. (I suppose you could use the internet, but that - once again - defeats the purpose. You're supposed to play the game.)

Society is an asshole. There, I said it. I'm sorry, but it's true. Look at every popular mechanic in modern life: Facebook or twitter, pop culture "journalism" and entertainment in general has become a popularity contest, with little to no integrity left. Trophies/achievements appear to have followed suit. Many people treat this system as just another way to rank yourself within society. "I have more achievements, therefore I'm better than you." Bullshit. I don't care to be part of this. My gamerscore is very low, my trophy level is a single digit and I have 0 platinum trophies and 0 100% completed games on XBL. These numbers do not accurately represent me as a gamer - it defines neither my skill nor commitment. For the record, the closest I've come to a "complete" score is Tales of Vesperia. I have nearly all the achievements for that game simply because it's a fucking fantastic title and I clocked 130+ hours in it. I got all of those achievements accidentally, as a result of my normal gameplay habits.

Now here comes the other half of the disclaimer: I realize this may be a sensitive or controversial subject for some. I recognize that many of you enjoy trophy hunting and achievements, and that for you, it adds another aspect to a game and an additional challenge. Some people have high numbers simply because they've been gaming on a single account for a long time, and it just adds up. That's great, and I'm happy that you get so much mileage out of a game, but it baffles me that people constantly bring up these systems and depend on them for entertainment.
My feelings are rooted deeply in a lifetime of gaming and it frustrates me when people feel like they can demote me because of this silly system. I already struggle to be taken seriously in life because I'm a woman who tries to fit in with men, I don't want to defend myself in my own lifelong hobby. It's these people that fuel my opinions, and the reason I wrote this blog. For me, the only important trophy is a great game, and the only achievement I want is putting a game back on the shelf, and feeling like I can't wait to pull it out again (cheesy!).


  1. I agree almost completely, 98‰. 0 perfect scores on xbl, and across my 3 psn accounts, my score is close to 40, and I have zero plats. I don't buy or play games for trophies or achievement points. If there is a game like Witcher Elder Scrolls or Assassin's Creed, games that I love the most of all, I would like to get the plats just to say I have them but it's not the reason I bought the game in the first place. Part of this system is flawed too. Assassin's Creed is my favorite non RPG game, and I have every trophy for the last two games, like you only because of my play style not trying to get them, however I have no plat for either game because the put multi player trophies as a requirement. I just can't do Assassin's Creed mp. I think this is unfair to people who would possibly want the perfect scores or platinum trophies but don't have or have really bad Internet. I can see the replay value trophies add to people who collect them, but a good quality game has plenty of replay value on its own.

    1. Aha! That's another thing I totally forgot to mention. Multiplayer! Very good point.

  2. I had a couple of bouts of Trophy/Achievement whoring. When I first got my 360, achievements where this new thing and I started playing towards getting all that I could. I remember struggling to find every orb in Crackdown to get a perfect score. I played through a few embarrassing/easy/bad games just to reach that perfect 1000. Then when Gears 2 came out I cleared level 10 in hoard mode with a couple of buddies to get a 50 point achievement. It was so much fun, but then after that achievement unlocked they didn’t want to play the game anymore. I was so pissed. Who cares about achievements?!? We were having fun! I stopped caring about achievements right then.

    Then last summer I fell into the trap again. I was on a super hero kick and really enjoyed The Amazing Spider-man game. I got its Platinum trophy without really trying. I then started playing the Lego Super Hero games, and Wolverine getting plats for those. Then I started on Captain America and it was OK, but I kept plowing through the game to get that platinum. When I finished it I realized I wasted a lot of time on a game that was kinda… meh, when games like Dark Souls were collecting dust on my shelf. Again I swore off of the stupid electric candy and stuck to playing games because I like them.

    1. It's a very "this is why we can't have nice things" matter, isn't it? We really can't count on people using systems likes these reasonable or rationally, as a whole. It just ends up ruining things for the rest of us.
      I have a friend who refuses to play all these great games I find on Xbox360, but if you look up their profile on XBL it's nothing but 1000's for games no one even plays. It baffles me!

  3. You hit the nail on he head!

    I've been gaming for over 25 years. I've played so many games in that time, and explored so many wonderful worlds, yet if someone were to look at my Gamerscore or my Trophies they'd say that I "don't really play games" or that I'm a dreaded "n00b".

    I'm not in the mood to do some repetitive task that's boring when I could be enjoying the storyline of a game. Any Trophies or Achievements I have I've picked up just from playing the game the way it was intended to be played.

    For those that enjoy racking up Achievements and Trophies, good on them, but hopefully they enjoy it because it's fun for them and not because of dick measuring!