Stir: Achievements & Trophies


Adding achievements and trophies to video games was a marketing stroke of genius.  Let’s start by examining what the words themselves mean.

Welcome to 2047: Awarded for pressing the A button 2047 times. (Source: OXM)

Achievement: The act of achieving or performing; an obtaining by exertion; successful performance; accomplishment; as, the achievement of his/her object; A great or heroic deed; something accomplished by valor, boldness, or praiseworthy exertion; a feat. (Wiktionary)

Trophy: An object, usually in the form of a statuette, cup, or shield, awarded for success in a competition or to mark a special achievement; An object taken as a prize by a hunter or conqueror, especially one that is displayed.  (Wiktionary)

In both cases, these awards appeal to the human psychological need for self-esteem.  Dr. David Rock wrote on his Psychology Today blog that this need should be examined from the perspective of status.

Dr. David Rock

“While there’s no question that there’s a deep human drive for a feeling of self-esteem or competence, this feeling of competence is almost never assessed on it’s own: we are social beings at the core, and as such our sense of competence appears to be deeply connected to others around us. Self-esteem may not be an accurate way of understanding this feeling of ‘okayness’, when we actually measure this constantly against others. Instead of self-esteem, we need to start thinking about the more dynamic sense of ‘status’.

Status means where are we positioned in relation to those around us: literally where we are in the ‘pecking order’. Your perception of status, and any changes in it, can be a driver of what’s called primary reward or threat. A sense of increasing status can be more rewarding than money, and a sense of decreasing status can feel like your life is in danger.” – Dr. David Rock

Is it any wonder that gamers commonly refer to being addicted to specific games or gaming is general or that gaming has become more mainstream?  While not an official diagnosis yet, video game addiction is very real and action is being taken to get it recognized as an official diagnosis.  Proposals have already been made for its inclusion in the next  Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM).  This would open the door for treatment to be covered by medical insurance.

“Studies estimate that 10 percent to 15 percent of gamers exhibit signs that meet the World Health Organization’s criteria for addiction. Just like gambling and other compulsive behaviors, teens can become so enthralled in the fantasy world of gaming that they neglect their family, friends, work, and school.” –

For the esteem seeker, achievements and trophies are a bit like lacing the gaming Kool-aid with crack cocaine.  While each gamer’s mileage may vary, the Kool-aid is a little sweeter because of these awards.   Drink up.

While most awards are for accomplishing a task of substantial effort others leave us asking WTF.  Inset are a few achievements and trophies that clearly fall into the WTF category.


Flushed: Awarded for killing an enemy with a toilet. (Source: OXM)

Cooper Bibaud | Thirsty Robot | ProfileTwitter | Kudos to Microsoft for popularizing the idea behind meaningless mini awards for playing games. At first I never saw the point behind them when I heard about them, but once the 360 launched and I was plugging away on my first launch games, I was hooked. It gives you that same feeling that books with short chapters do; a little burst of accomplishment

I think the key to them is not letting them control you. Play the game how you normally would, and after you complete the game, use it as a guide to see how much of it you truly experienced. If you loved the game, dive back in and try to collect more of them. If you didn’t, move on to the next game. To me, they really do prolong the experiences you want to prolong. They’re only there for our benefit. Often, they will also get me to try things that I normally would not have thought to try. I love them.

Sarah Brannan | FFXPrincess | ProfileTwitter | Personally I would love to see trophy’s added to the PSP, somehow integrated into the PS3 system. I think first off it would get PSP owners to buy more games, and non-owners to purchase them. (I know there are you trophy mongers out there!)

I wouldn’t say that getting them is necessarily important to me. Is it fun? Yes. Trying to get more than other people is always fun. But if it came to a point that it was pissing me off trying to get one then I’d either come back to it or not worry about it.  I have noticed though that there are a lot of games that I haven’t replayed/finished because of the fact that they aren’t trophy enabled, Folklore being one of them!

Attentive In Class: Awarded for watching 15 cut-scenes without skipping any. (Source: GamesRadar)

Zac Campbell |  Achievements and trophies take games to the next level. Achievements can tell you when you are truly done with a game. They give you something to work towards and look forward to accomplishing. When you do accomplish them they give that that sense of reward that we all crave while playing a video game.

Achievements make a record of your life as a gamer; they tell everyone what you have done. They also let everyone know what you haven’t done. Achievements that need more than one person can create friendships between gamers and strengthen communication between you and people on your friends list by trying to get together everyone you know to help you. You can find someone on your friends list that needs the same achievement as you and work together with them to unlock it. They can also give you a reason to keep coming back to a game, if I don’t have much to do and feel like playing a game, I can see what achievements I haven’t gotten in a game and go back and play it. This gives every game you play that much more replay value, with something as simple as achievements.

Achievements are also a major factor in deciding what console to play. As someone who owns the three main consoles, achievements often help me decide which console to play. There are many Wii games I never get to finish. This is because there is no drive to complete them. While playing the Wii I can’t stop thinking about how I could be playing a game on my 360 and be getting points for it, adding on to my ever increasing gamerscore and trying to be one of the first people on my friends list to complete the game. The Wii leaves hollowness when you have beaten a game, hollowness that needs to be filled with a reward system. Achievements are something that every console needs, every game I complete should mean more than just me knowing I have beaten it, it should add to a score, I should be able to show the world, give me something in return for beating it, give me that feeling of accomplishment.

Scott diMonda | WCC5723 | ProfileTwitter | Trophies nor achievements get me to buy a game and I am not one of those that must get my hands on the “list” to see what I could earn by playing a certain game.  I pick up a game because I want to play it.  I know there have been times I have looked at my friends list to see that they just got an achievement for 6,000,000 headshots (joking of course as I do not know of that type of achievement)  in multiplayer and I think to myself I can do that but then the game turns into a job and to be honest I play to relax and have fun.  If they where to wipe out either achievements or trophies I would not be phased.

Blowing It: Awarded for FAILING the same song 10 times. (Source: GameObserver)

Nathan Hardisty | Bananahs | ProfileTwitter | Having beaten BioShock on Survivor difficulty, no deaths – all I have to prove for it is a trophy. It’s become a social talking point, and I welcome it for the most part. I love the trophies/achievements that just make me hunger for more, the type that make me know that earning it will prove my manhood. They can get pretty annoying, especially since developers just shove little collectables everywhere and you won’t platinum/fully complete the game without scouring the heights for them all. Another complaint I have is that multiplayer achievements should involve teamwork, but often at times, a developer will run with them and jeopardise the whole experience.

William Johnson | StylelessKnave | ProfileTwitter | I think Achievements are pretty awesome. I remember gaining my first one and the sense of wonder and excitement filled me as I paused the game and continuously looked for which one I had gained and what the future ones were. I dont think they are seriously important, but they are a very, very fun part in the overall gaming experience. And they have definitely become almost a traditional part of this generations gaming. I’ve read a few articles even saying that Trophies offer a more interactive way to play since they have bronze, silver, and gold which I assume is based on difficulty, and various other aspects of gameplay. Which I imagine is a lot more intense and fun than the regular beat this boss, clear this level, etc Achievements that I’m personally used to on the 360. Regardless, I thoroughly enjoy them. I never go achievement hunting because then it feels forced, I enjoy just playing through the game and gaining the Achievements naturally as they come. All in all an exciting and inventive way to enjoy the games even more.

Press Start To Play: Awarded for pressing start. (Source: GamesRadar)

Tym Kaywork | vttym | ProfileTwitter | Quoted from Why I Sold My Wii – Lack of achievements:  A funny thing happened when the Xbox 360 came out (Aside from RROD).  People realized they got some candy for playing their games.  It meant nothing, had no value, and could not be redeemed, but Achievement points became something as important to me in a system as a good controller or quality online.  Why? It showed my level of commitment to a game.  It tracked and rewarded doing oddball things.  It forced me to play a game harder than I normally would if I wanted to get those pesky points.  It added replay to games I never would have played twice, yet found myself enjoying games more as a result.  I took my time, saw places I missed, ventured on new quests, heard new conversations, and got a better appreciation for the game as a whole.  I also spent more money on arcade games, downloads, packs, pics and themes.  Sometimes for achievement points, sometimes because I got excited about a game as a result.  But all of it was driven by those 1000 (200) points available to me.  Microsoft started an addiction subtly, and by the time I realized I was hooked it was too late.  Games I would normally have played on any system were played for points on the 360.  Rentals were 360.  Even Nintendo exclusives would be disappointing to me because they did not offer achievements.  It’s not Nintendo’s fault for not implementing a system, it’s Microsoft’s for getting me hooked.  Just like I can’t watch Standard def TV anymore, I can’t play games that don’t have achievements (or trophies, etc).

Stewart Loosemore | Stigweird85 |  ProfileTwitter | I love the achievement systems, it brings points back to gaming. As for trophies? Sony came to the game a day late and a dollar short. While the trophies are usually similar if not identical to the achievements I think that points are a better representation of achievement than a trophy and having to wait for trophies to sync with someone in your friends list is just pointless.

I am proud of my gamerscore, and hope that the xbox 720 and beyond continue with it.

Originally was going to have 200 unlockable achievements but Microsoft said no. (Source: MTV)

Angel Pelaez | Achievements and Trophies are definitely a correct step in the right direction for this generation. Other companies as OpenFeint or Crystal are already applying the idea on the iPhone and most probably, this concept will arrive to a Nintendo console sometime.

The reason Achievements and Trophies are great is because they are totally optional. Some of them unlock as you naturally progress, but they are not required in order to experience the entire game. Achievements and Trophies are used for bragging and nothing else, they are even included in expansions and DLC now giving players incentive to invest extra cash for this content.

Unfortunately not all companies are wise when deciding how to unlock there Achievements/Trophies and the values of these. Epic Games is one of these companies; making me reach level 100 or kill 100,000 foes is just too much; it makes me want to stop playing the game. Perfect Dark Zero was one of the first games to come to the Xbox 360 and it was a bad, non polished experience, I completed the game on normal difficulty and what did I get? 1 achievement and 10 points.

As I see it, Achievements and trophies are here to stay and will be included in future generations of consoles. They will for sure evolve and take different paths, Microsoft is trying with Avatar rewards and Sony with PS Home items. I don’t know about portable devices as most games are designed for short play sessions, but I hope our Achievements and Trophies  can be transferred to the next generation scores.


It is possible to complete LIMBO and earn no achievements at all. (Source: Personal Experience)

Chris Forbis | MensaDad| ProfileTwitter | I am a goal related person – meaning – I always have something I am moving towards.  It could be as simple as getting to the end of a book, but there is always some sort of finish line out in front of me.  When gaming – that’s what achievements are for me.  I usually play through the game first paying little or no attention to the achievements, then, if I enjoyed the game I will look up all the achievements and try to get as many of them as I can.  Having these milestones gives me reason to keep playing the game – thus giving me more hours of enjoyment.  While I am far from a completest, I do get a lot of satisfaction out of hundred percenting a game, but some achievements are just too difficult or time consuming for me to complete.  Sure, there is some frustration created by achievements, but there is also a great deal of satisfaction once overcome.

The rules for Stir are simple.  I pick a topic and ask the Platform Nation writers, editors and staff to send me their opinions.  Thanks go out to all the Platform Nation writers who contribute to Stir.  They are all part of the best writing team in the industry and I couldn’t do this without them.

Now, drop down into the comment box below and let us know how YOU fell about achievements and trophies!

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  • for me, PC gaming did not suffer when this generation of consoles came out because the games were not as good, it was the lack of achievements. I often found myself buying the Xbox360 version just for achievements so that I had an electronic record of my gameplay, nothing more, nothing less.6 years later and PC gaming is once again my main attraction, Steam achievements, Games For Windows live, Raptr etc etc.
    I won’t go chasing an achievement just for the sake of it but it’s nice to compare how many I had on a game compared to a friend.

  • on and while I’m commenting, online achievements need to die a quick death.

  • If you think about it, achievements in the game is something that’s easy to attain that’s why so many people get hooked playing a video game. Is it bad? No. Is it good? It depends. Playing too much can result to you neglecting your responsibilities for yourself, for the society and for your family. So when playing these games, don’t forget that you also need to tend to other things. Games can always be there to be finished any time. Responsibilities sometimes have time limits.