Ryan Reid (better known as Seacrest) joins us for a new weekly segment on video games. Every week he’s going to drain his mind onto this site and talk about his unique view on the video game world. Make sure to make it out to his video game pub quiz at Ground Kontrol every other Sunday.
Hello, my name is Ryan, and I used to be an achievement whore. It’s been 5 months since my last achievement, and walking away from them has set me free.
Last September my xbox account was stolen by Russian hackers. I still haven’t gotten it back. Before that unpleasantness I was a total achievement whore. I played games, not for the fun of gaming, but for a stupid imaginary number. I would forgo playing really great games like Gears of War because of hard achievement lists that I could not 100% for kiddie games like Where The Wild Things Are and Spiderman: Friend or Foe because I could get the full 1000 in a day or two. I spent a day making that shitty Xbox camera work in the hallway of my house that had the best light reflection so I could 100% “You’re In the Movies” as four people. I didn’t play any of the hundreds of great games on my PS3 because that could be time farming red blocks in all the lego games for their respective achievements. I have no good memories of this. All I had was that gamerscore number. That number that no one but me really looked at. When I lost that number, I had to really look at myself and realize one thing; achievements are nothing but digital nicotine that Microsoft uses to addict gamers.
Most gamers like me are also collectors. Be it comics, older games, figures, movies, or even t shirts (I’m at 210 by the way for those of you following mytshirtyear.tumblr.com). Collecting is an addicting habit, once you start you have to have it all. Studies have shown that the same centers of the brain stimulated by chemical addictions such as nicotine are activated in hard core collectors when they get a new piece for their collection. It’s not always such a bad thing, but it’s still building a habit that can influence a person’s future choices for the better or worse. When it comes to achievements, Microsoft found a way to induce those choices in gamers through allowing gamers to start a digital collection, not only of trohpies, but of their digital conquests. I can look back and see the day I beat “Darksiders” 100% on Armageddon difficulty, or remember when I found every flag in “Assassin’s Creed”. It influenced me so much that when I would go to the game store, there was no reason for me to get a Wii or PS3 game, even if all my friends were telling me about how amazing Uncharted 2 was, or how Super Mario Galaxy was the best platformer since Super Mario 64. All that mattered was that my $60 went towards increasing my gamer score by 1000. I was hooked on a drug called gamerscore.
Ever since my account was hacked I’ve really thought about it. I used to play video games for fun. They weren’t chores to increase my collection of achievements. Achievements had taken fun out of the equation. I went and busted out my NES and played games, knowing full well that when I turned the power off no one would but me would know about what just happened, and for a second it seemed useless. After playing Shadowgate for only 20 minutes I remembered why I played game to begin with. For the sheer fun of doing it. I played hours of Adventures in the Magic Kingdom, and Contra, and Mega Man 2, and did nothing but have fun. I played SNES, Genesis, and Game Boy games for the next month or so. I even went and got a Dreamcast just because I never had one and played games I had never experienced. And you know what? It was more fun than the years of “achieving” at Xbox shovel ware. I played newer games too, but I got them for the PS3. And yes, they have trophies, which are basically achievements, but I didn’t even care. I ended up getting a bunch of the trophies in Saint’s Row: The Third, but that was on accident. I was having so much fun in Steelport and I wanted to do everything, and the things I didn’t like I skipped. If I had been achievement whoring I would have had to suffer through a few of the very boring and unfun side missions like insurance fraud and escort missions, but since I didn’t care about that fake collectors items I just skipped it. Games have become fun for me again because I found the secret about achievements. It’s just a digital cigarette that Sony and Microsoft use to make sure you keep buying from them and only them. But friends I’ve found the nicotine patch. Go have some fun.
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