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Do Achievements/Trophies Ruin The Gaming Experience?

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September 6, 2013 by thedavidryan

PS3 trophiesEvery video game we play today features a set of achievements or trophies that are earned in different ways while playing through the game. Some are earned simply by making progress in the campaign while others push players to try a little harder and do things they may not have done previously. It all sounds great, in theory, but it seems like there are negative aspects to the achievement/trophy system. These awards may or may not be changing the gaming experience right under our noses, in some ways it is a good change in other ways it’s not so good.

First of all, what is the “gaming experience”? I feel that it is different for everyone and therefore cannot be generalized with one simple definition. For me, the gaming experience is to play video games and immerse myself into the storyline, connect with the characters, and get lost in a world that is not my own. For others it may be just playing a game for fun on occasion or to pass the time with friends, and for others it is to collect those achievements/trophies I’ve been talking so much about. If all you are playing a game for is a ‘ding’ and a number, then are you really playing for the right reasons?

There are gamers who only play certain games to get 100% of the achievements or a platinum trophy and then move on to the next game without truly appreciating the game they just played. They argue that they are getting the most out of a game, but I feel that if the developers wanted us gamers to simply get these achievements/trophies then they would make less original or less in-depth games with bland characters and overused plots. What would be the point of spending all that money and time on making an original game if they goal was to simply get achievements/trophies? Making a bland game would be simpler and much cheaper, anyway.

achievement

I’d like to highlight a handful of pros and cons to the achievement/trophy system. There are many more than just the ones I have listed, but these are what I believe to be the most straightforward pros and cons.

Pros:

  • Achievements/trophies push players to delve further into the game they are playing. This allows them to experience and search for things about the environment or characters that they may have previously missed.
  • They allow for multiple playthroughs of a game. Some games offer two sets of achievements/trophies based on separate choices that players can make which may urge a player to go through the game two or three times, thus getting their “money’s worth”.
  • Achievements/trophies allow for different playstyles and encourage trying new things. Maybe trying to beat a boss in less than five minutes or scaling a wall without falling. These things push players to experience different ways of playing a game.
  • Being able to share experiences with friends and showing off your accomplishments can be a positive experience for both players and their friends. Being proud of getting a platinum trophy can be good thing and may even push your friends to try and best you, creating friendly competition.
  • Some achievements/trophies offer rewards such as avatar costumes on the Xbox 360 or badges on Steam. It’s positive reinforcement for striving to do something a little different while playing a video game.

Cons:

  • People use the amount of achievements or trophies another person has as a way to judge how much of a gamer they are. Someone with a level 30 on the PSN may see someone that is a level 11 as “not a true gamer” without even getting to know the person. This is negative representations of individuals for poor reasons.
  • Forcing gamers to play through games they may not even like just for the added score brings negative ideals into gaming. No one should play a bad game or game they don’t care for more than they have to and certainly not for a simple number next to their tag or ID.
  • Gamers judge games based on how easy it is to earn achievements/trophies in them. An example would be the slight negative kickback from the lack of a massive amount of trophies in The Last of Us. Completing a playthrough and earning only 2-3 trophies turned some folks off.
  • Instead of using the achievement/trophy system to learn more about a game through time spent playing it, certain people “boost” or “hack” games. This allows the player to gain an achievement or trophy without really working to get it and it is most commonly done to earn multiplayer awards.
  • Older games from past generations or even certain console release titles from this generation are overlooked and forgotten in time because they lack achievements/trophies. An example would be Heavenly Sword on the PlayStation 3 which was one of the first games released for the console and does not include trophies.

 

I would like to get back to the question I asked in the title of this post, now that I have gone over some pros and cons, do these achievements/trophies ruin the gaming experience for some gamers? I do not think I can really come up with a proper answer to this question, even with all that I have written. It is just not that simple. While some of these are legitimate points to have made, it’s obvious that other really only pertain to a certain crowd and therefore seem illegitimate to the group they do not apply to. It is safe to say that this is a very subjective topic and a question that has many answers.

In some ways I think that achievements and trophies spoil players, leading to an obsession with earning them. In other ways it encourages players to explore the game and attempt feats they may have never thought about attempting before. It ends up as a double edged sword, for some achievements/trophies are a “must have” award, for others they are a great way to get the most out of a game, and some people just do not mind either way. I would like to ask a couple of more questions here at the end of my thoughts: Where do you weight in? Are achievements and trophies beneficial to all gamers or are they a detriment to gaming?

Author Bio

Kelly is a passionate gamer who blogs over at LinkSavesZelda and you can also follow her on Twitter at @LadyCroft_3

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10 thoughts on “Do Achievements/Trophies Ruin The Gaming Experience?

  1. Vitosal says:

    Its funny how this article comes out now just after I’ve completed my batman Arkham City to 100%

    I’m trying to figure this out as well. for me personally using Batman:AC as an example, i absolutely love that game and the whole story and i wanted it done to 100% simply because i enjoyed playing it so much. I agree with you’re pros list and i also said in one of my articles that getting a trophy for doing a specific thing is welcoming because it encouraged me to play the game a different way and i was able to do things that i didn’t know i could do or didn’t need to do in the single player campaign.

    With all my games, I love them solely for the story and characters. I wouldn’t give two shits about trophies on call of duty for instance. It has to be a game rich in entertainment for me to keep playing.

    The last of us was an excellent game with or without trophies, i would like to complete that game 100% as well just because it is such a good game and would like to explore every aspect of it.

    I never thought of the negatives before though and never knew people were judged by their level of trophies. On PSN i think I’m a level 12 but I would never not call some a “true gamer” based on their level, that’s completely unfair.

    Anyway, interesting article. That’s my two cents worth
    Wow, I ramble alot.

    • thedavidryan says:

      I think you raise a lot of good points like Kelly did. I used to work in a Game UK store and the staff there judged each other on their gamer score or trophy level so it definitely does exist. If you love a game and want to explore ever inch of it and achieve trophies then good for you! However if people are buying games they don’t even like just to get the trophies then that is ridiculous.

      Thanks for the great comment!

      David

      • Vitosal says:

        yeah i could never do that. I cannot buy a game simply for trophies. That’s just insane and not worth the effort. That’s just to make yourself look good although some people might just like the challenge of it. I wish someone who trophy hunted would comment because I’m exceptionally curious

    • LadyCroft3 says:

      Thanks! You’d be surprised about the judgement thing. I know people who will say things like “Oh, that person only has 5,000 Gamer Score, they must suck at gaming” without even considering that the person my play on other platforms more or that maybe they just don’t care about achievements.

      But I agree that personally trophies and achievements urge me to play games differently and enjoy them more. I also loved The Last of Us and even though I only have like 4 trophies after beating it twice I still would keep playing it. I’m not too big on the 100%’s or platinums personally, but they are super fun to get 😀

  2. theraikage says:

    Some games are made for trophies/some games aren’t. Personally, I would never buy a game just so I could have a completion of 60%+, however, there are games where you don’t really have a choice. 😛

    Speaking of The Last Of Us, there aren’t many trophies available to begin with anyway. I think it is a game more about the storyline than getting awards.

  3. williamjepma says:

    I couldn’t agree with you more, Kelly. I for one think of Trophies (because I play primarily on PS3) as an added bonus. I only pursue the platinum for games I truly loved (Uncharted and inFAMOUS series come to mind) but do love the satisfaction of hearing that beautiful ‘ping’ of a new trophy. Are they abused and misused sometimes? Absolutely. But I think there’s more good than bad. Awesome read, as always. 🙂

    • RedGuinness says:

      Love this kind of intelligent article.
      I’ve seen the harassment element before but some people are looking for anything to look better in a game, even if all they have is one more assist than the next guy on CoD.
      Personally, it’s led me to taking on the most challenging difficulties and replaying old games I had long forgotten the fun of. It’s made me a better gamer in a lot of ways. Seeing someone with a lower gamerscore might be someone who doesn’t have the time, money or knowledge of great games, and that seems unfair of someone to mock.
      I do love achievements completely. I hope never to see them go away.

    • LadyCroft3 says:

      Thank you! I do the same. If I really like a game I may go for the Platinum but I wont go out of my way if it’s really difficult or a game I don’t like. They are outrageously fun to get, but not the reason I play 😀

  4. Sam Hale says:

    I’ve never been crazy about achievements but there’s I’ve definitely gotten more out of certain games because of them. I would have never beaten Cal of Duty: World at War on Veteran if there hadn’t been an achievement for it. I think the best solution is in-game challenges such as the Riddler Trophies in Arkham City or the Uncharted Series. These challenges unlock extra content in game, which is much better than some meaningless notification. They’ve become such an obligatory part of gaming culture that many of the HD remakes that come out are selling themselves on the inclusion of them. I personally despise it when games like infamous have trophies for multiple playthroughs. If a game is good enough to warrant multiple playthroughs, then it doesn’t need a trophy/achievement to encourage this. If they game isn’t good enough, no trophy is going to convince me to grind through an entire game. It’s a desperate attempt to add depth to a game. Replayability comes from quality, not from gamerpoints.

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