[Note: This is a post about grinding for achievements, NOT about grinding for EXP in RPGs. Carry on.]
It’s not that much of a leap to see that gamers would obsess over things like achievements/trophies. As gamers we tend to be a bit on the obsessive side anyway. Look at how most will defend their favorite title/console almost to the point of all out fisticuffs, and some beyond.
Recently I played through LEGO Harry Potter Years 1-4, and had a lot of fun with it. I finished the story mode with about 65% completion. That would have been fine on its own, and good enough for me, or anyone for that matter, to write a cohesive review. Was I satisfied with only 65% though? No. Thus began my long and tedious adventure to truly complete the game.
It’s my understanding that at one point in time a players Gamerscore was going to be taken into account by Xbox Live as a whole. Players were going to be given rewards based on how high their score was. That makes total sense to me. Thus taking the META game of collecting these achievements and then offering up a tangible reward for it. My guess is that somewhere down the line this could never be settled on and then became just part of the Avatar Awards system in place now.
What is the real draw for achievements? Do people honestly talk trash to other gamers based solely on their gamer score? I have friends that never touch the single player campaign in most of the first person shooters they play. Each one of those guys routinely will kick my ass in multiplayer matches, but they only have a gamer score of like 2K. Does that make them any less of a competent player? I would say no, based strictly on the fact that they handle themselves so well in a ranked match. Why then even have a score based around achievements?
The simple answer is satisfaction. Getting recognition for a job well done, or a job done well. People like to know that when the achieve something great, there is a reward involved in some way. The satisfaction of unlocking some small icon that then is linked to a menial points system is fun. It’s fun to be able to complete a mission and then *blip* you get a reward for doing just what you were supposed to do.
There is also the satisfaction of knowing that you have successfully scoured the land to find every bobble there is out there. This is where fun can turn the corner to the dark side; obsession. Case in point; me finding ever single thing I could in LEGO Harry Potter. It was, as I said, tedious and at times VERY frustrating, but I had to do it. In my head I hadn’t completed the game until I had unlocked everything that the game had to offer. Thus the pure enjoyment of the game was sucked out, and replaced with obsession.
I never want to play that game again, because of the frustration that I had in finishing the game completely. I think some times we need to learn that all those warnings from Nintendo are right. We DO need to take a break every 15mins. If for no other reason than so we don’t get burned out. Moderation is the key. Sure it’s fun to have those marathon sessions of a game, but keep things in perspective. If you are starting to obsess over a certain achievement, it may be time to take a step back and relax a bit. Don’t let one tiny thing sour you on the entire experience.
I think gamers as a whole have addictive personalities and are more prone to play games longer and more intensely for the simple reason of getting all the achievements. We just want to be able to show off our prowess in some form. We may not be able to run a mile in under five minuets, but we can damn sure get 10 head shots in 10 seconds!