Tuesday, April 14, 2009

The Seven Deadly Sins of Achievement Fanatics

I’ve been an achievement fanatic and a member of a community of like-minded individuals for a long time. There’s nothing wrong with enjoying chasing every points you can get, even from bad games, if you have a reason to do so. As I’ve gone my merry way scoring points, I’ve come across seven behaviors/habits frequently displayed by achievement fanatics that truly irritate me. These “bad habits” of the community are listed and explained below.

I don’t intend for this post to come across as me standing on a pedestal telling everyone what they’re doing wrong, while pretending I’m innocent. This post is as much self-critique as it is social commentary, as I will be rating myself on how guilty I am of each habit listed below. A rating of 1 means I don’t have that problem at all. A 10 means I’m guilty as hell. If I can think of any notable achievement whores out there who are a paragon of innocence of these sins, they shall be praised for it (shaming isn’t my thing, so I’m omitting the names of the big offenders).

1. Impatience
Many achievement junkies seem to be extremely impatient people. They expect any game they play to bend over and give them their points at practically GSL speed, with no difficulty whatsoever. We’ve all heard people whining about having trouble beating a game on hard, having to play online for a while, and a million other statements to the effect that they wish the game was over with already. While there is a line between being impatient and complaining about achievements that seem genuinely unreasonable (Overlord in Far Cry 2, numerous 1000 online match achievements), I feel too often people are in a hurry to rush from one game to the next, without taking any time to enjoy what they’re currently playing.


His score is insane. If you look at it, you’ll also notice he has perfect scores in many RPGs, which are by nature time consuming affairs, and not games for the impatient. He’ll work with a game and see it to the end, and if he’s complained about wanting to move on, it has been a rare event.

HOW GUILTY AM I? It depends on the situation. During a GSL, I’m as impatient as one can possibly be, and get easily frustrated when things aren’t going my way. When not in the league, I’m more willing to work through games, and don’t need to rush from one to the next, though I do get irritated sometime with tough or time consuming achievements.
NON-GSL: 4 to 5

2. Boosting-Only If it’s possible to boost achievements, these people will boost them every single time. I’m not against boosting. I’ve done it numerous times if different games. However, I only boost achievements in games where the online play is dead and I could never get those points any other way, or the achievements involve too much luck or are almost impossible to get legit. (Or, I admit, if I've played the MP for a while but am too lazy to play all the way to the achievement criteria) If online achievements don’t meet those criteria, I actually earn them through play. It’s a crazy idea, I know. I earned most of the MP achievements in Condemned 2 and Vegas 2 legit, for example. The same can be said for everything I currently have in COD3. I'm not against boosting for the reasons listed above. However, developers put time and effort into those multiplayer modes, so while boosting isn't illegal, I think it's disrespectful to the game's creators to blow through the MP for the points without experiencing it at all, if it's actually possible to get a real game going. People who ONLY boost, and always take that easy way out, infuriate me. Boost selectively and responsible please, and not on everything.


3. Reducing Games to their Achievements

By this, I mean evaluating a game based on how easy the achievements are, how quickly they can be earned, and nothing else. You don't care if a game is actually fun, only the points matter. This is a matter of course and a basic gaming philosophy for some people which baffles me. I see points as an extension of my gaming hobby, not the be-all-end-all in themselves. The completionists in this group will never play some games with a few particularly tough/time consuming achievements, because they probably wouldn't complete them. If they don't like the achievements, these people won't play the game, even if it's a great game in every other way. Let's face it, almost all of us are guilty of this sin to some extent or another. I won't play Turok because it's list is too MP-centric, for example. I'm sure I could find other examples if I wanted to look around. I wish we could all focus on the games a little more than their achievement lists, but I guess it's par for the course with our hobby.

MY GUILT: 5 to 6

4. No Achievement Points = No Point in Playing
For those guilty of this sin, if DLC doesn't come with points, they won't buy it. If a game has MP but no MP achievements, they won't play it. After a game has been 1ked, it never gets played again. Depending on the game, I'm either OK with this or infuriated by it. Let's use Mass Effect as an example. To get all the points in that, you have to play it several times. I played it almost 5x to get my 1050. I think, after all that play, it's OK to not want to play the game anymore, since I've invested so much in it already, and have all the points. For single-player content, I have no problem with people not looking back once they've finished everything.

The annoyance for me comes in MP and co-op play. There are people who won't play L4D any more because they 1ked it, or Vegas 2, and any other game like that. Too many people move on the instant there's no more point gain to be had from these games. I can't tell you how often I've tried to get social games of Vegas 2 (MP or T-Hunt), L4D, or Gears 2 going, and recieved no response. Sometimes I get messages like, "Thanks, but I already have all the points." I wasn't asking you if you wanted to boost, I was asking if you wanted to play. Lately, getting into Gears hasn't been a problem, since working toward 100 takes so long, but the problem remains the same for other games. I'm grateful to have friends like Sabre, Silva, and my brother, to name a few, who are always down for social play. I've found, however, that the vast majority of the point scoring community isn't, and that I need to start diversifying my list beyond x360a members if I want to have more social games.

Single player: 10 (rarely ever replay SP only games)
MP and co-op: 4 to 5 (based on if I enjoy the MP or not)

5. Narcissim
The classic "It's all about ME." The size of a person's gamerscore is not a measure of how narcisstic they are. I've run across people in the 10-20k range who are far, far worse than anyone over 100k. These gamers are massively self-absorbed, assuming that everything they do is super-important and everyone should care. Don't even bother asking these people for help in a game. Unless they stand to gain as much or more than you do, they won't help. Their score, and what they want to play, are all that matter. They crave attention and will seek it any way they can, which in the case of achievement whores usually involves starting internet drama, going out of their way to refute/debunk someone, and e-shouting their latest achievement excapades. Yes, I'm aware everything I'm writing right now could be taken ironically. I'll get to me in a minute. Thankfully, this is not a pandemic among achievement whores, but more limited to a small percentage of the population.


I'm no psychologist, and I've never had the opportunity to speak or game with the guy, but let me explain why I think the world's #1 achievement whore isn't a narcissit.

Having such an incridibly high score is just a desperate cry for attention, right? WRONG. At least we achievement junkies know that scoring points can be a fun hobby. He simply does it better than anyone else. There's very clearly no "If I get more points people will love me" theme in his writing. He does it cause he wants to, whether people paid attention or not. As the #1, he's going to get a lot of attention, whether he wants it or not, and I believe he stated somewhere that he made to blog so people can follow what he's doing, and so he can show he's a real gamer, not some hacking tool. Nowhere in his blog will you find anything along the lines of "I'm Stallion83. I'm the best EVAR! You all wish you were as awesome as me." Those would be classically narcissistic lines, but you won't find them. He seems remarkably level-headed, and not out to be better than anyone. One could expect someone with such a high gamerscore to be full of their own self-importance be self-congratulatory, but that not true here at all. He's also been kind enough to respond to a few messages I've sent him with help, and could laugh about an achievement whoring poem I wrote a while ago, which included a reference to him in it. So, for these reasons, I give Stallion the award for being a model gamer, and not a narcissist.

HOW GUILTY AM I? I started this blog because I'm a writer, and I love games, so blogging about gaming is fun for me. I've tried to use my Review Team status and other things to draw an audience, but my intentions have been noble enough. I would continue this blog even if nobody read it, but I'd be lying if I said I didn't enjoy knowing I have some small readership. This is a really hard category to honestly judge oneself on. How much of what I do is attention motivated? I can make fun of myself, I don't start drama to feed my ego (April Fools joke aside), and I'm usually decent about helping others out, so I don't think I'm too horrible. I'm more of a narcissist than Stallion though... Almost positive on that front.

SCORE: 5 to 6. If I'm horrible, I'm sure you'll let me hear it.

6. Elitism
This is similar enough to Narcissism, but with groups. These groups of people are exclusive cliques, often hanging out mostly with each other, often being very self-referential (though expecting others to know what they're talking about). The group as a whole displays the tendencies of a narcisstic individual, though the levels of narcissism from individual members may vary. There's nothing wrong with having a small group of friends you regularly play or boost with. But when this group begins to close the gates of admission, and the traits of narcissism show up, you've got an elitist clique. Again, I'm someone could read this ironically if they wanted to, though I think my fellow members of TSA and Hand of Thrawn would agree that we're not elitist at all.


7. Economic Excessiveness
The worst offenders have to buy new games all the time. They'll drop $59.99 like it's nothing for tons of new games, beat them, and sell them a week later. These people have to play everything as close to release date as they can, and seem to never have heard of bargin bins or waiting. Such a habit is not unique to achievement junkies, but with the quest for more points being essentially never-ending, I think we have a more acute form of it.

I know, I know... Who am I to tell people how to spend their money? If they worked for their cash, and they want to spend it in such a fashion, what's the big deal? Yes, it's their money, and I would never do anything to stop them from spending their money how they wish, but it's perfectly OK to disagree with their habits. Why pay so much for something you'll just get rid of in a week? Why not wait for a copy from Gamefly or Blockbuster? Perhaps wait until games have become cheaper and then purchase them.

I listed this one last, and it's really one of the smaller sins in my book. People who buy then sell games instantly, or have to buy up every game known to man, simply irritate me, and the level of my irritation can be correlated with the amount of money people say they spend. As a college student, I have to be thrifty, as I don't have a lot of cash. I generally only purchase the AAA games I know I want, and Gamefly or get from bargin bins everything else. I generally won't pay over $20 for a used game. I will wait for a game to drop below that price, then get it. Maybe I just have money envy I don't know. I won't make any strong condemnations on this one, but we all know some big offenders.

How I would rate the sins in terms of severity:
1. Elitism
2. Narcissism
3. No Achievements = No point in playing
4. Boosting-Only
5. Reduction of Game to Points
6. Economic Excessiveness
7. Impatience.


1 comment:

  1. I would argue Sajaa is far more a paragon of patience than The Pants Party. He has completed pretty well the same number of jrpg's as Pants, he has very difficult shooters complete such as both Lost Planet's and FEAR...AND he is closing in on 200k.