Achievements 2

It’s taken me a while to really nut out what it is that I do not like about achievements.

Achievements commoditise gameplay. They turn fun into commerce.

Essentially, an achievement is an award. Some achievements are for completing game-goals that aren’t actually avoidable anyway as a part of routine gameplay and simply represent milestones.

The rest, however, are a commercial proposition. You play the game in a certain way, and we’ll give you an award in trade for your conformance. You essentially purchase the award with time spent doing things a certain way.

And that can be okay – when the deal is off the table. Having some sort of achievement pop up while I am already doing what I want to do (ie: having fun playing the game the way I want to play it) is kind of cool, when I wasn’t aware that I would get the additional award for my fun.

When it is on the table, though, it feels prescriptive. “Hey bub. Want to unlock the ‘sleeper hold’ award? Here’s what you’ve got to do for me.”

That’s trade. You’re dangling a shiny toy at me (often with desirable in-game benefits attached) and telling me I should spend time playing the game in a particular way (which might not actually be any fun for me) or I’ll miss out on the special thingy that you’ve worked to make desirable.

That’s where I start to feel squicky about things – which might not be exactly a reasoned sort of thing, but that’s how I feel about it.

If there was any way to disable, and/or permanently hide achievements in games, I’d do that instantly, for every game I play, and I’d be a much happier gamer for it.

7 thoughts on “Achievements 2”

  1. Those achievements are basicly subquests, the rlements that make quest based gameplay addicting (but not necessarilly fun) distilled to their purest; game designers cheating to keep you playing even if the game isn’t really all that fun.

  2. I have always felt this way about achievements as well until a few nights ago. I was playing Battlefield Bad Company 2 and realized that I only had 3 or 4 patches to go and I would have them all. So I figured, WTF, lets go for it. And as much as I wouldn’t normally go for c4 or tank-mine kills, by trying for the achievements it opened up new tactics that I wouldn’t have thought to try before. In a way, it enticed me to become a better player. Achievements are new-ish, isn’t it possible they are just being poorly implemented?

  3. I got cured of this playing Diablo/LOD, with the “gotta collect all the supah powah stuffz if you want to make it through Hell level solo in two hours” and the constant nerfing of characters and equipment by Blizzard.

    Instead, I spent my time training and crafting Mercenaries (who most people used to ignore) into deadly warriors in their own right who could actually solo Hell Meph. It was hard, it was tricky, it was aggravating but rewarding fun, and much more interesting to me than Treasure Farming or Speed Leveling. And I didn’t really need “stuffz” to do it.

    I watched the other peeps and they reminded me of gerbils or rats, scurrying around collecting these little seed grains and special gearz but always seeming aggravated or overworked; they were approaching the game with the level of work I generally associate with… er, work.

    I didn’t give a hoot if I managed to collect all the pieces of gear to make Dolly’s Deadly Dirk Ensemble or whatever; I was very happy that my Lvl 92 Amazon Mercenary could scare the poop out of some baby Hammerdin 😀

  4. If I create a place where people can find things to achieve, they will come in droves, if I have the opportunity to cash in on this in order to payoff my secondlife tier costs then I will.

  5. Totally agree with the ‘prescriptive’ sentiment of how some achievement systems feel. At the same time, the most overtly prescriptive achievement I can think of is those lifetime achievements in The Sims games, and those were kind of fun I guess.

    I don’t like the prescribed achievements so much in games like World of Warcraft. Those “in-progress” achievements and all.

    Then sometimes I don’t mind ’em so much on Xbox Live. I find myself often looking through my Games screen where I can see progress I’ve made in this and that game; defined by achievements, and be able to quantify just how much I haven’t finished this game or that game. So, its kind of practical there.

    I dunno, achievemnts are hit or miss. Generally, I could do without them.

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