*Feel free to swap Achievements with Trophies or your preferred arbitrary term.
A few months back, I finally turned off Achievements notifications. I’d grown tired of the graphic blipping into my screen during an important cut-scene or actively disrupting my engagement with gameplay mid-shot, mid-jump. I’ve never been a completionist, so my relationship with Achivements and their ilk were limited to goals that encouraged me to play the game in an interesting way, adopting a new strategy.
Very few games have those kinds of Achievements, though. The bad was outweighing the good, and as the points themselves do not provide me any joy as a gamer, the disruption was proving too much.
Of course, I’m a hypocrite; recently, I bragged on Twitter about achieving all 200 points possible in Costume Quest. However, the one Achievement that lingered, the one that kept me playing for an hour more than I needed to finish the game, involved capturing all the available costumes. The costumes are much of Costume Quest’s gameplay, a successful merging of gameplay incentive and Achiemement directive. The two were mingling together, prompting me to seek all of the points.
There is a second, more shameful reason, though. I miss the feedback loop that Achivements provide. Achievements are the worst kind of rapid-fire feedback loop, a constant pat on the back that tells the player they’re doing something right. You don’t earn anything for unlocking Achievements, something Microsoft scrapped after they realized players didn’t need anything more than the incentive of points. But like anything that feels good, when it disappears, you want it again. Achievements are like crack, so even though I’m not someone who’s addicted enough to become a completionist, my own reaction is enough to show me why someone would spend 50+ hours getting Assassin’s Creed towards 100%.
I also miss experiencing the good Achievements, despite those being few and far between. Perhaps what I’m asking for is better implementation of the Achivement notification. More discretion. Wait for a pause. I’m going to keep the notification turned off for a little while longer. Like most addictions, maybe I just need to keep the habit at bay long enough and I’ll forget all about it. I’ve finished Halo: Reach, Spider-Man: Shattered Dimensions, Enslaved: Journey to the West, Call of Duty: Black Ops and Medal of Honor without any idea of my Achievement progress. Did I enjoy those games any less?
I don’t believe so. (Of course, I’ll never really know, either.)