Monday, October 16, 2006
The Rant: Achievement Hangover
Starting midnight tonight, Xbox Live and Xbox.com are taking the next 24 hours off. I'm glad. I am nursing one rough Achievement Point hangover.
Don't get me wrong, I've been enjoying earning points for the past 11 months and rubbing it in my brothers face (14K to 6K, eat that Phil!) but recently I noticed a disturbing trend - I've been playing some games just to boost my Gamerscore. I'm not talking good games either, I mean games I wouldn't touch with my worst enemy's (Jake Plummer) controller. When you play 99 Nights or rent NBA 2K6 just for the points, something might be wrong with you. And of course, I would never do that. While getting wrapped up in collecting points might not be too surprising (who hasn't played Halo 2 until they're ranked at a certain level or played a game to reach the high score), where do gamers draw the line? When does collecting points become more important than playing the game itself? When do we remember what gaming is really about?
For me, that moment occurred this past weekend when I was playing the incredibly bad Just Cause. Because October and November are chock full of games, I won't be reviewing it, but here's the skinny. Good: great graphics, some truly innovative ideas. Bad: Dialogue, soundtrack, storyline, controls, game play and everything else. So I'm playing this dud and thinking to myself "This game sucks, how long will it take me to get some points out of it before I can trade it in?" What kind of thinking is that?!? Its not, Should-I-buy-this-car-without-consulting-my-wife thinking, but its close. What kind of gamer had I become? A point monger, thats what kind! After deciding that 10 points was all I was willing to suffer for, I traded in the game the next day.
Thankfully, this experience shook me out of my Achievement hoarding rut. At least I hope so. I don't want to play bad games just for the points (see 99 Nights). I don't want to keep good games because of some crazy points I'd have to kill myself to earn (see Call of Duty 2) and I don't want to try and compete with the insane people who have Gamerscores in the 30/40,000's (thankfully, nobody I know). Mae West may have said "too much of a good thing is wonderful" but she obviously wasn't referring to Achievement Points. I think Cicero (Wow! I'm sooo deep) said it best: "Everything in moderation".
Oh, I'll still be collecting my points but this time I won't be going all, No-beer-and-no-TV-make-Homer-go-crazy, to do it.