Just In Bailey: Sometimes It’s Okay Not to Achieve

Ever since the release of the Xbox 360, gamers have been treated to a special pat on the back from the games they play in the forms of achievements for said system as well as trophies for the PS3.  Being the great individualists that they are, Nintendo didn’t jump on this bandwagon.  All games for the Xbox 360 and most games for the PS3 hand out a special “ding” when certain conditions are met (and for convenience and to save my sanity, let’s just refer to both achievements and trophies as achievements.  Think of it in a square/rectangle comparison: earning a trophy is an achievement, but earning an achievement isn’t necessarily a trophy.  And now that your mind is blown, let us continue).  So, does the “ding” make the game better?  Does earning an achievement really make a difference in the experience?

To be perfectly frank, I don’t know if I would miss achievements if they were taken out completely.  They seem to deter from the experience of playing the game.  It becomes a contest of who has a higher gamer score or trophy count.  Check the games people play.  I wager the people with the most achievements are more “achievement whores” than legitimate gamers.  There is no reason a 28 year old guy should have Spongebob Surf & Skate Roadtrip in their list of achievements unless they are conducting a review of it (for the record, I don’t have Spongebob anywhere near my achievement list.  My wife would kill me if his image was close to the TV.  And furthermore, if you’re reviewing this game, what’s wrong with you? (Editor’s Note: Unless it’s for Kid’s Corner of course! =D -JG)).

If you’re gaming for the achievement, you miss out on actually playing the game.  Achievements can extend the replayability of a game, but shouldn’t be the focal point.  A game should be enjoyed because it is a good game.  The lack of achievements wouldn’t ruin Oblivion or Batman: Arkham City.  I love the Legend of Zelda series and haven’t felt the desire to obtain an achievement for defeating a Gleeok.

I have an idea for game developers.  You don’t need to get rid of the achievement.  If it’s a selling point, that’s fine.  I know this is a business.  I would like to see someone try this in a game:  require the completion of a game before enabling achievements.  Think about it.  You go through a game and enjoy it for all of the effort that the developer put into creating it.  You get an achievement for beating the game.  Of course, you missed a lot of content in your first run through.  To practically guarantee a second run, the achievements are unlocked.

I don’t hate achievements.  I just think a game should be enjoyed on its own merit.  A bad game is a bad game, achievement or no acievement.  If you are an achievement whore, believe me, it doesn’t impress anyone.  Telling me you beat Wall Street Kid on the NES, now that’s impressive.

Oh, and the best achievement/trophy ever created?  Hands down one obtained in the Metal Gear Solid HD Collection titled: “Problem Solved.  Series Over.”  If you were able to comprehend the  MGS storyline, this is friggin’ hilarious.

Just In Bailey –an homage to the secret code from Metriod, which allowed you to play as Samus Aran without her suit– is an editorial column at Vagary.TV brought to you by Joey Alesia. Each week Joey will challenge you to look at a different perspective of the characters, gameplay, and/or plot in your favorite games. Chat up your thoughts below, or send Joey an e-mail at Joey.Alesia@vagary.tv

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Author: Joey Alesia View all posts by
Joey's adventure into the realm of video games began at 3 when Nintendo first hit the West. He grew up a Nintendo fan and ended up branching out to Playstation when FF7 hit and XBox when Oblivion hit the 360. He's not huge on first person shooters or sports games but definitely enjoys a good RPG or survival horror game. His all-time favorite series is definitely The Legend of Zelda, followed extremely closely by Metal Gear. Joey has a firm belief that games should be treated with respect when they are made and that the classics should never be overlooked.
  • Don Parsons

    Great article. A little over played, but very well written, which is more than most can say. =) Keep these coming, love your articles.

    My stance on is I enjoy getting a trophy for playing games. Sure, there is no value, but if someone enjoys it, why remove the feature from other games, or not put them in all games? While your idea is very unique, I beat a game once, and move on. I (sadly, might I add) don’t have time to replay a game over and over like I did when I was a kid.

    Also, the social aspect of seeing my friends progress in a game is something to look at too, as I do that myself.

    And nice save, Jeremy. ;)

  • http://twitter.com/kariyanine Chris Scott

    “A bad game is a bad game, achievement or no achievement.”

    And a good game is a good game, achievement or no achievement. I, like many people, enjoy getting achievements but I have never once felt that getting them (or not) detracts from my overall experience in a game. Sure there are always going to be those that get obsessed with trophies/achievements, just like there are those that get obsessed over anything, however if you play games because you like to play games, then the achievements are just the cherry on top of the whip cream and I for one like the cherry.

  • Joey Alesia

    I agree with you. A good game is a good game w/wo achievements. I just don’t think people should play the games just for the achievements.

  • Joey Alesia

    Thanks Don. I don’t often get to go back and play games multiple times either which is definitely a shame. I don’t really put a lot of stock in high scores or achievements. I’m not against them. That’s just me. Sometimes though, the lure of achievements can detract from enjoying a game. Or it could even lead the player down a path to playing something that may be total garbage (I’m not knocking Spongebob on this too).

  • http://twitter.com/kariyanine Chris Scott

    I think you are making a gross generalization on this issue when you say, “Sometimes though, the lure of achievements can detract from enjoying a game.”

    Also, there is a flip side to your argument that achievements could lead a player down a path to playing something awful, they could lead a player down a path to a game that they would have had no intention of playing but end up loving.

  • http://twitter.com/_JWGoodson J. W. Goodson

    hehehe…opened the floodgates on this one. =p

  • Don Parsons

    Before I started here, I would play some games for the trophies. Saw was one of those games, and turns out, I REALLY dug the puzzles so I am glad I played it. I haven’t sunk to an all-time low of Hannah Montana yet, but I will TRY games for two reasons;

    1) even if I don’t like it, I got some trophies (here’s looking at you, X-Men Destiny, though I reviewed that one)

    2) I try to be open minded, even before I started reviewing titles here.