Posted on September 20, 2007, Jonathan Xbox 360 Achievements: A Blessing and a Curse
Loot-Ninja.com put up an interesting article today about how achievements can take some of the fun out of games on the Xbox 360. Their main point is that the achievements kind of trick players into playing games they normally wouldn’t or trying out game modes they would usually ignore. I can see where they’re coming from, but I don’t think that’s the reason achievements can take the fun out of a game. As someone who has only owned an Xbox 360 for a month now, I kind of see achievements as a blessing and a curse.
I actually like the single-player achievements in games for that very reason: it can sometimes make you try things you might’ve either ignored or just not thought of. Recently, I finally played through Crackdown and made sure to get the achievement where you basically climb the tallest building in the city and just jump off. It was pretty simple and fun, but not something I had thought to do until I looked through the possible achievements to unlock. Sometimes though, the achievements do seem to make you do some pointless things; particularly the ones that require you to play through the game’s slow, boring tutorial. I felt kind of stupid after I played through the tutorial for the XBLA version of Worms. Seriously, I’ve played the game since I was ten; I don’t need a refresher. But its such an easy achievement that its hard to just ignore.
When you go online though, achievements become more of a hindrance than anything. For example, the first game I got for my new 360 was naturally Gears of War. I played through the single-player campaign once by myself and then again with a friend. Then I decided to try out the multiplayer. The first thing I heard the minute I entered a room was someone yelling “WTF!? NOOB!” through my headset. Then he started ragging on me for my Gamerscore, which, considering I’d only played one game on the system at that point, was naturally low. I took it in stride, because, well, I really was a noob. But now it’s almost a month and dozens of matches later and I still hear similar exclamations whenever I enter a new game. People will then usually start bragging about how they’ve gotten almost all of the achievements for the game. This doesn’t impress me; it just makes me think they have way too much time on their hands. I’ve once encountered a person who seemed to exclusively use his pistol, which puzzled me until I realized he was just trying to get an achievement for doing so. I wouldn’t have minded too much, except he was on my team, and he wasn’t doing so well. Of course all these taunts tend to stop about the time I slice through one of them with a chainsaw. But still, I get this every time I enter a new match. It’s a continuous annoyance, and it just makes the game (you know, the thing we’re all supposed to enjoy) less fun. I just don’t feel that I should devote hours and hours of time into playing a game just to get a handful of points added to my Gamerscore so people will shut up and let me just play the damn game.
Achievements are a great addition to most games. They usually can expand the playtime of a game even after you’ve beaten it and give you a little something to remind you what you’ve accomplished. Leave it to the online community to take something nice like that and turn it into a cock fight (you know, like roosters, and not the other thing since this is a mostly PG-13 site).