Saturday, July 12

Seriously. No, Seriously.

Why I hate the Xbox 360's achievements (and PS3's new trophies, presumably).

Aside from a few humorous moments, like those found in the title of this piece, the achievements of the Xbox 360 are an irritation that really gets stuck in my craw.

One reason involves how I engage with a game. For an example, check out the Who am I? post I made earlier. I don't really engage with games in an immersive manner, although I have friends who do. However, I do establish an ongoing dialogue with games that allows for a deep commitment in my participation in them. The basis of this is that should I choose to play a game, then I'm bloody well going to PLAY it. While in front of the display, I am committed to the designer's vision.

Then this stupid plinky plink noise, coupled with a visual cue that varies in placement on the screen, goes and disengages me from my experience and reports that I've done some arbitrary thing within the game that I would have done in any case. This effectively ruins my dialogue with the game and removes me from the moment.

Okay, so I had thought that with time, I would grow inured of this and be able to just partition the distraction from my sensory input. A foolish hope. My next endeavour was to find some way to turn the damnable things off, or down, or minimise them in some way that will spare my consciousness being rudely ripped from the experience for what, exactly? No joy. I could not find anyway to get rid of the fuckers!

Another reason is that apart from their blatant rudeness to my gaming experience, they're largely an arbitrary measure of well not much at all. I say "largely" because there are some achievements embedded within games that have enlightened me to new ways to play the game, by demanding something of me that was NOT demanded of me in the playing of the game. These achievements help to add value to the game, and only really serve to irritate me further as they are the exception rather than the rule. They also highlight possible shortcomings in game design, or possible shortcomings in the player depending on the game, and the player.

Am I to assume that you love your achievements? Or do they grate on you in new and interesting ways?

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