Editor: Brady Ruiters
Achievements and Trophies are somewhat new to the gaming world, only really appearing during the current generation of consoles. There have always been challenges within games to perform certain tasks but there wasn’t always tangible evidence or rewards for completing them. I remember the first time I had encountered this system was when I had gotten hold of my very first Xbox 360 and had unlocked an achievement. I remember thinking that I really liked the idea of somehow making the reward tangible to some extent. We all know that there’s always that one friend who doesn’t believe you when you say that you’ve completed that Herculean task in a game, or even that you’ve played the game at all. Apparently showing them a save file on your PS2’s memory card isn’t enough evidence of having played the game, but I digress.
Not only do these rewards somewhat feel like accolades, but they are also a form of creating replayability for games, like an incentive encouraging people to play through a game multiple times on different difficulty levels, taking new paths and making different decisions. It does actually become part of the overall experience. This is especially so for Trophy/Achievement Hunters or as they are more commonly known, “Trophy/Achievement Whores”. This demographic of gamers enjoy playing, but are also interested in raising their Gamerscore or Trophy Level even higher than what it already is, by playing a game to death until all the rewards have been acquired, resulting in, on the PlayStation systems at least, earning a Platinum Trophy. I know this because I am somewhat of a trophy/achievement whore myself, but definitely within reason. I enjoy a challenge but I don’t want to be on the verge of slitting my wrists due to the challenge being overwhelming. Also, with a series like “Achievement Hunter” by Rooster Teeth or sites like PS3Trophies.org, it’s becoming a lot easier to get into the hunt. If it gets any easier with the help of these sites, how much of an “achievement” could it really be? I don’t really use these walkthrough sites for the sake of getting trophies without the effort, which renders them superficial, but rather when I’m really struggling or the trophy/achievement description is vague and I really don’t know what to do.
Pretty much every game has these rewards these days, with some titles having some really boring trophy/achievement names. Other games however, have some really interesting trophy/achievement titles and personally, it makes me feel as if the developers are proud of their hard work, actually enjoyed working on the game and wanted gamers to enjoy every aspect of it too. But it makes me wonder, who comes up with these names? Is there a special team that sits in a boardroom of sorts and discusses each idea as if it were an important pitch, until finally they have a name for each and every trophy/achievement in the game? That’s how I’m picturing it. Unless they really don’t work THAT hard and I’m just a little overzealous about this whole thing.
I can only imagine that quite a bit of hard work goes into the naming process when you’re trying to come up with funny and interesting ideas to be utilised. Like I said, people played games without the trophy/achievement incentives before, and with how much the gaming world has evolved, so has the requirements for how to keep it interesting. I often find the creativity impressive, and aside from the gaming rewards we can apply in real life (I always brag about my remarkable reflexes and notable strategising), I’m quite proud of trophy/achievement rewards, even though they’re just virtual treasures.
There have been trophies (and titles) which have been labelled as offensive, causing a bit of a stir amongst some activists in the gaming community, but when I really thought about it, I’ve figured them all out. When doing something “illegal” in a game, like hogtying a woman in Red Dead Redemption and laying her down on a train track to watch her die, it’s disturbing and somewhat unconventional, but often becomes one of the topmost topics when talking about the game. However, as soon as you are rewarded with a trophy/achievement for killing this poor woman, it leaves the game vulnerable to criticism. Like a virtual reward but very real psychological guilt. I know there wasn’t a trophy/achievement for this one in GTA: San Andreas, but it’s almost like saying, “Hey man, I’ll play as a black man and steal a bike, but don’t you dare reward me for it. Then I’m guilty of a real crime. It’s called stereotypical racism.” So what do we abandon? The trophy/achievement or the task? Meh. I want both.
How do you feel about trophies/achievements overall, and how important are their titles?
Do you think that trophy/achievement guides are ruining how rewarding the achievements should be?