I have been gaming for nearly 25 years. There are so many wonderful experiences I have had and friends I have made. That used to be the only thing I could take away, but not anymore.
Revolutionary or old hat?
Microsoft changed the landscape and mindset of many gamers, including myself, when they introduced Achievements back in 2005. While the basic philosophy of getting a high score and earning bragging rights wasn’t new, each game could only contain its own scores (trophies, 100% marks, etc.) With the introduction of the Xbox 360, Microsoft presented players with universal Gamertags and on them each game could unlock permanent achievements. Valve shortly followed suite and then Sony did the same.
Sucking me in
I first came across these new systems one the PS3 with Sony’s trophies. I loved how trophies were always accessible, and would find myself going into my list and just kind of, well, staring at them. My gaming habits started to change. Everything I played I played for trophies. I would replay things multiple times within a single week to get the variety of playthrough trophies available. I avoided games that had trophies that seemed too difficult or took too much time. I let amazing games pass me by because I had to earn trophies. I was obsessed, obviously. This was how I gamed for almost 8 years.
Xbox One freedom
This summer my brother-in-law told me about the the Xonebros Podcast. I jumped in and was instantly blown away by how much fun this community had playing games together. I bought myself an Xbox One in November and immediately found myself looking into achievements the same way I had looked at trophies. I wanted to start earning them all!... or did I? There was no platinum trophy for getting 100% of base game stuff… there were just marks to show your skill and progress. Was there a reason to keep fighting the long grinds and slogging my way through terrible games? No! I was free! I could play anything! I could finally start Dark Souls! I could play tough multiplayer based games like Overwatch. I could NOT do everything they put in a game. It would be ok. I felt liberated.
Now, 4 months later, I have found a much nicer balance in my gaming life. I play what I feel like, I can start every game I own and not worry about beating them if they aren’t fun, and I’m having WAY more fun. I still enjoy getting achievements, but I have learned how to say no. I used to play games to completion before these new systems came into play, and I know I will keep doing that. But now, as I did then, I am only going to complete a game if I think it is a fun thing to do.
Achievements are there for us to set goals and have fun. But, as Mr McSpicey likes to say, “Make sure you have balance.” Don’t let yourself lose sight of what really matters in gaming.... Fun.
I've been a gamer as far back as I can remember. I've transitioned through all the genres, from platformers to puzzle to shooters to music games and back again. I've been avoiding the Xbox family of systems since I got dominated consistently in the first Halo, and it took me a while to figure out I just sucked at it and the system was fine. I just got myself the Xbox One as an early Christmas gift and I'm loving it!