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Sultan Saeed Al Darmaki: Achievements: The video games killer
June 01, 2012
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Call me paranoid if you like, but I am starting to get the feeling that we have stumbled upon something that is taking the fun out of video games these days. I am not talking about new government regulations that are censoring the amount of violence in them or the constant merging of companies which in twenty years time will probably leave us with just one console to play with. What I am talking about is the achievements system.

The achievements system was introduced some years ago in order for gamers to justify why they need to spend more time playing, especially when most of the time it is with just one game. You might know them as Trophies for PlayStation, Gamer Scores for Xbox and Achievements for online games such as World of Warcraft, Call of Duty and countless others.

Achievements system is what enables players to keep track of things they have done in games such as:

Finish the game in Normal, Hard, Insane and No-Life difficulty.
Execute a 100-hit fighting combo.
Collect all of the weapons, armours, pets, mounts or hidden items.
Kill X amount of enemies. (In some games this would take about 5-10 completions of the game itself).
Get 200 headshots in one round of a game.
Spend 60 hours walking around the city in the game while not wearing anything.

There are many more different kinds of achievements, some may take seconds to complete, others take days and, believe it or not, there are some that take one whole year to complete, this is actual years not game years.

When you have completed one achievement you get something called points, which is just for show and does nothing else. So what was the point of that exactly? I would understand if you could do something with those points you have amassed such as use them as air mileage. That would have been cool actually because I would spend hours playing and after all that hard work I could redeem my points and get a first class ticket to London.

Since they do nothing, then why go through the trouble of getting them? Why waste months playing just one game by yourself when you could have been playing different games especially multiplayer ones with your real life friends?

I personally believe that achievements drain the souls out of both the games and the gamers. Speaking from experience I can certainly say that this can be adverse to people who take achievements very seriously, up to the point where not only do they spend time but also money on most online games. A lot of them actually pay people to help them get achievements so that they can be on par with the top gamers without having the skills.

I remembered back in the good old days of 8-bit and 16-bit consoles like the Super Nintendo and Sega Genesis where games were not only fun and had more depth to them in terms of story and game play. Also, they did not turn players into the extreme addicts they have become these days.

When you played games back then you never needed to play endlessly for the sake of achievements. If you finished a game then you would move on to the next one just to broaden your mind. Let us forget that you used to invite friends to come over and play alongside you. You used to play for fun but now you’re playing for something else, either to make other gamers jealous of you, earn a rank that is only recognised in that one game and no where else or to prove a point that you do have achievements (but not real life ones).

Sometimes I wish I could give all of these players today the consoles and games we had back in the 80’s/90’s to show them that you don’t need achievements to enjoy a game. It would make me happy to see the younger generation just playing video games for fun and then come back to real life where they can work on getting achievements that matter.

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The writer, based in Abu Dhabi,
is a graduate of New York Institute
of Technology (AD). He is the author
of Under My Black Halo.

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