I think achievements are affecting my enjoyment of games

And by that I mean not in a good way, negatively. I've been mostly playing 360 games for a while and I picked up a DS again recently. I've been having a lot of fun with FFTA2, Dragonquest IX, Mario and Luigi, Advance Wars, etc. So after I just finished Halo: Reach for some reason I was tempted to go buy a copy of Halo 2 and play through that a bit again. I was at the point in the game where you're supposed to snipe enemies off of a walking scarab and then jump onto it to take it out. Instead I'd been in a ghost most of the game to this point and I drove the ghost onto the scarab and beat the level that way.

That's when it occurred to me. This has been building for a while, be it my experience with the DS or the enjoyment I got playing PS3 games where trophies are fairly innocuous. Achievements were robbing some of the joy of video games from me. I realized that when I play a game that has no achievements I completely focus on the game. I lose myself in the game. For some reason when I play a game with achievements I check them to see what cool things I "should" do "immersively". The irony in that thought is rich, I know. I started to wonder why this was and this is what I think.

I think that 2 things may be happening. And this is just my theory, so feel free to squash it.

#1 - Games without achievements don't focus on designing mini-challenges as much. So something as silly as parking tanks in Vice City or finding ways to break a leveling system in a Strat/RPG to make a powerful character or landing a ghost on a scarab, these things all happen out of the mind of the gamer. It's your own personal experience. I may walk up to you and ask you if you did the same thing. May not of and you may not even know what I'm talking about. Your game experience is different. Your approach to playing the game might differ. Look at all the creativity people put into forming their parties in RPGs and how this varies wildly from person to person dependent on the amount of rope that gives them.

I think that with achievements, however, the game might be designed differently to make sure and create these opportunities to do something unique or unusual. I'm not talking about achievements like finishing chapter IV in a Halo game. I'm talking about a basketball game that encourages you to put down a certain statline. I might want to get a triple-double organically, but now that the game encourages me to do it, then it's not my idea. And if I accomplish it the shared experience will be how we did it, not how much our game experiences vary.

#2 - I believe that my own personal mindset changes. Without achievements I settle into just playing the game. I don't pay attention to collectibles. In Crackdown I didn't hit up FAQs to find all the orbs. I organically found what I wanted. I did, however, try to drive truck up a building. I did try to climb the agency tower. These are things I would have probably done anyway, though, so I enjoy them less and I find myself "coloring outside the lines" less frequently. When that achievement bell chimes and the icon pops up I instinctively go to check what I just did. Whereas before I might try random stuff out, like driving a ghost everywhere I can just because.

I'm sure I didn't do the topic justice. It's late and I am just stream of consciousness. I just now that I had MUCH more fun just now playing the much derided Halo 2 in part because I was achievement-free. Whatever cool and interesting things I tried to do in the course of the game happened out of an organic interest to push on the boundaries, not because the game told me what I may want to try.

I tend not to think about achievements much my first time through a game unless it's a sandbox game, in which case achievements are simply additional fun goals I can set for myself.

Achievements have given me even more options for how I want to enjoy playing games. Nothing more, nothing less.

I think the other thing for me is that it ruins the immersion. I think that's the other underrated part. Social gaming is fun, but being alone with a game where literally it's impossible for the system or a person on your friend's list to draw away your attention is strangely nice after so long.

Achievements are making your enjoyment of games work?

Spoiler:

Affecting

I like that achievements often inspire me to try things that otherwise might not occur to me. Even though they were not typical achievements, I really enjoyed unlocking the various awards in MW2. Red Dead Redemption was a game were some of the achievements really pushed me in other directions in my attempt to unlock them. I think in a good game they also encourage exploring and foster a greater appreciation for he work that went into the game.

They can sometimes have emotional impacts as well. I felt a little guilty when the "Manifest Destiny" achievement popped up in RDR.

However, if the achievement looks more monotonous than fun then I might skip it altogether.

Coldstream wrote:

Achievements are making your enjoyment of games work?

Spoiler:

Affecting

;)

Never said that. Look at the title.

Ballotechnic wrote:

I like that achievements often inspire me to try things that otherwise might not occur to me. Even though they were not typical achievements, I really enjoyed unlocking the various awards in MW2. Red Dead Redemption was a game were some of the achievements really pushed me in other directions in my attempt to unlock them. I think in a good game they also encourage exploring and foster a greater appreciation for he work that went into the game.

That's just the thing. I'd rather discover them myself. More importantly, I worry that achievements are making devs put into the game a facsimile of emergent gameplay as opposed to it actually being emergent.

I don't pay them any mind. If I see something that sounds fun to try I'll go for it, other then that, who cares?

Sinatar wrote:

I don't pay them any mind. If I see something that sounds fun to try I'll go for it, other then that, who cares?

I could be wrong, but I think I'm saying I care. I may be the only person on Earth that cares. But I do care. I find my enjoyment of games that aren't on the 360 going up exponentially simply because I'm just playing the game for the game's sake. I also, once again, think there's a discussion here about if game designers are changing the way they design games to fit the achievement generation. But, hey, if your answer is "not me, who cares?" then I guess there is no discussion.

DSGamer wrote:

For some reason when I play a game with achievements I check them to see what cool things I "should" do "immersively".

If it's such a hindrance that it's damaging your enjoyment of the games, exercise the tiniest bit of self control and simply don't look at them. It's really not that hard.

I will say one thing, though: I wish it were possible to turn off achievement notifications without turning off all notifications. That is a bit obnoxious.

DSGamer wrote:

I think the other thing for me is that it ruins the immersion.

Turn off the notification. You'll need to turn them back on for friends notification for multiplayer though.

I thing that achievements can be good, but it's a hard craft to master, there's a lot of places where game developers do use them as a crutch, and are lazy about using them. Why bother about thinking of a way that fits into the game to introduce the player to some aspect of the game, when you can just put an achievement there.

Essentially the achievement is a big sign saying "Did you know you can do A with B?", if the player didn't know that you could do that, your game doesn't teach them well enough, if the player wasn't interested in doing that task then it's likely not fun and shouldn't be in your game.

I purposely ignore them, unless they have some kind of concrete reward associated.. If I don't actively get something out of them, they're irrelevant. If I do, then I weigh the proposed reward against the effort required to achieve it. Actually getting the achievement is of zero interest, only the associated benefits.

I think there is no number in my life less relevant than Gamerscore. It's not really a score. It's not a measure of worth. It's a sucker system to get you to spend more money on games.

Whenever I buy a game, I just put the disc in the drive and play. I might take a glance at the achievement list to satisfy my curiosity but I'm usually half way done with the game at that point. Sometimes I will choose a few achievements to work toward but I mostly ignore them. The requirements for most of them are just not worth my time. Needing to play a game multiple times or having to play the entire game while reading a FAQ so nothing is overlooked doesn't appeal to me. Heck, I still have a problem trying to motivate myself to redeem codes that unlock in-game thingies (a moment of silence for Shale and Devastator).

The only exceptions to this gaming habit were Mega Man 9 and 10... which makes me a very sad individual.

I also wish checkpoints weren't considered achievements. Finishing chapter one is great but I'd appreciate it if that minor accomplishment wasn't broadcasted on my screen during a cutscene.

Achievements introduce a meta-game to the game. It's not that strange that it can distract people from the main game. It's basically what they're designed to do.

Occasionally they can be an okay incentive to explore the game systems, but sometimes they can be rather crass and distracting as well. I'm not keen on the way Bioware tends to tie them to the story, for instance. Having the completion of a romance -- which by all means should strive to be emotionally affecting -- be immidiately followed by *DING* Notched Bedpost Achievement Unlocked! is a bit iffy to say the least.

*Legion* wrote:

I will say one thing, though: I wish it were possible to turn off achievement notifications without turning off all notifications. That is a bit obnoxious.

I've wished for this a time or two myself. I turn off notifications all the time and it usually ends up making people think I'm purposefully ignoring them when they send game and chat invites.

Scratched wrote:

I thing that achievements can be good, but it's a hard craft to master, there's a lot of places where game developers do use them as a crutch, and are lazy about using them. Why bother about thinking of a way that fits into the game to introduce the player to some aspect of the game, when you can just put an achievement there.

Essentially the achievement is a big sign saying "Did you know you can do A with B?", if the player didn't know that you could do that, your game doesn't teach them well enough, if the player wasn't interested in doing that task then it's likely not fun and shouldn't be in your game.

Left 4 Dead does that, actually, but I think it was a really smart way of teaching people how to play their unique multiplayer game without forcing everyone through a tutorial level. Not saying there aren't games out there that do this same thing but badly, but there are times when teaching through achievements is actually a good thing.

I usually take a quick look-thru the achievements before starting a game for curiosity's sake. I'll sometimes pick out one or two that I may feel like doing, but otherwise I usually ignore them and focus on the game. There are some exceptions where the achievements seemed mostly fun and attainable and it was the kind of game that wasn't so focused on story, such as Left 4 Dead, so I dove into the achievements.

I don't mind that achievements often point out different things to do outside of the regular game, as it gives me extra little challenges to complete. If I want, I can still create my own little challenges outside of those as well. There was nothing in GTA4's achievements about parking a bunch of cars across Star Junction and then trying to play The Floor is Lava from one side of the intersection to the other. It's really hard to do when people keep stealing your parked cars. Or the impromptu multiplayer game where one person would drive a car off a ramp and try to land on the other person, who would be shooting a rocket at the car to try to blow it up mid-flight. I miss GTA4's multiplayer. What was the topic again?

A friend of mine used to be an Achievement Junkie. His gamerscore is well over 100,000 now and he would rent games specifically to boost gamerscore. If it was possible, he would max every game he had. It pissed him off to no end when games had achievements for competitive multiplayer because it meant he couldn't max it (not much of a competitive fellow). Especially considering they are ranked multiplayer, never just "do this with your friends".

This year it finally broke and he just stopped caring about achievements. I told him that I think it affects his opinion on games too much, but it finally came to light when he gave it up cold turkey and just bought a ton of Wii games for cheap that he had missed because they don't offer gamerscore. He's been having a lot of fun now (then again, he's also the sort of person that insists games were so much better on the SNES, they mostly suck now, and kids need to get off his lawn, etc. So I take his rantings with a grain of salt ).

However, I still find myself enjoying achievements, though I've found myself a lot less interested in them as before. For some reason I'll still go for them, like that God damned "If They Came to Hear Me Beg" achievement in Halo: Reach. I went at that for over half an hour, and I can't tell you why. But most of the time I won't work that hard for an achievement. I'll max a game I think I can, or if it requires so many hours like Mass Effect I'll save it for when I really want to replay the game again.

Though I think for me, gamerscore just appeals to the D&D player in me. I look at the number and think "Alright! 45,000! I leveled up!". It also gives me reason to replay games sometimes, particularly in a different manner.

But I can't really say achievements alone give more joy out of a game. They're sort of like just something else to do. However, even though I've maxed out Bioshock and Dead Space, I can still find enjoyment from those games simply because they are that good. It's also reached the point where I no longer care if I'm playing a game that doesn't have gamerscore either. At some point the score is high enough that it just doesn't matter.

Games/systems that force me to look at achievements bother the heck out of me; I don't care about them, and I don't want to see them popping up....especially in the middle of cut scenes, or during other dramatic moments.

Personally I feel that "achievements" are symptomatic of the dumbing down of games... game developers don't trust players to make their own fun, or enjoy a game in their own way and so they try to lead them by the nose with fake "achievements" that - mostly - anyone with spare time on their hands and an iota of skill can achieve. I'm particularly baffled by gamers who are so obsessed with these fake points that they play horrible games just to pad their score.

Mini rant aside, said - people can play as they see fit... whether or not that includes achievements comes down to a personal choice.

I had the same problem. I can understand how it is easy to say "just ignore them" but they nag at the back of your mind. With time I got over it. It did help to get back to games I enjoyed on other systems, like you're doing.

Mystic Violet wrote:

Whenever I buy a game, I just put the disc in the drive and play. I might take a glance at the achievement list to satisfy my curiosity but I'm usually half way done with the game at that point. Sometimes I will choose a few achievements to work toward but I mostly ignore them. The requirements for most of them are just not worth my time. Needing to play a game multiple times or having to play the entire game while reading a FAQ so nothing is overlooked doesn't appeal to me. Heck, I still have a problem trying to motivate myself to redeem codes that unlock in-game thingies (a moment of silence for Shale and Devastator).

This is pretty much exactly how I view achievements. Since I am like Elysium, and rarely finish, or even get halfway through games, it doesn't occur to me to actually try to accumulate them.

I like achievements, though you can always pick some achievements which are making things worse (Like multiplayer achievements asking people to ruin the gameplay for others).
Good achievements add optional goals to strive for in games which otherwise might lack clear goals (For example in WoW).
Or in Starcraft 2, they were often used (in the campaign anyway) as an extra layer of difficulty you could aim for on each map.

I typically don't look at achievements before I start playing a game, but if I enjoy the game a lot, Ill start to look at them and pick some to work toward.

I do guess I'm a bit of an achievement junkie, although I have no gamerscore (and no Xbox)

The last, and perhaps only game-ruining one I went for was the stupid gnome-in-space one in Half Life 2, episode 2. When I found out (on this forum) that the reason I didn't get that one was because I didn't shut the door to the rocket myself, it was the scream heard round the world.

Just last night I beat LocoRoco, and although it doesn't have achievements, it does have collectibles; basically the same thing except they're not broadcast to the world. I had to limit the number of attempts I made at getting some of them so as to not hate the game. Luckily I've been largely insulated from this phenomenon due to playing mostly older titles and not owning a 360 nor a ps3, but the ones I am exposed to range from dumb to making me act dumb. There aren't many that melt seamlessly into the gameplay, as several of you have pointed out.

Dumb A: I don't need an achievement for finishing chapter 1, thank you very much (most recent offenders: Mr. Robot, Serious Sam TFE HD). Dumb B: I also don't need achievements that require me to rub my belly while patting my head through an entire co-op campaign while my teammates try to keep me alive (looking at you, Left 4 Dead...yet stupid me keeps trying for these).

While many of the ones Mount & Blade: Warband offers fall into the above two categories, it also includes some interesting challenges that I may not have thought of on my own, such as get into a duel with a male lord by insulting him, or, get divorced - I didn't know this was possible, and I'm actually not sure how to do it. Tropico 3, while having some "duh" achievements as well, mostly included pretty good ones. I was actually a bit annoyed when I found out they were locally saved only and would be wiped when I uninstalled. I had to remind myself that I didn't really care that much and I probably wouldn't play the game again for a long time, if ever.

Bottom line, don't make them type "Dumb A" or "Dumb B," and, as people have said, let us get rid of the notifications. If I get a "Buried Your Sword Up to the Hilt!" popup during my first conquest in The Witcher 2, we're gonna have problems.

EDIT: Just got the forum "Run-on sentence" achievement for not being able to sum up my points briefly.

I guess one way of looking at achievements is that they're trying to quantify the worth of doing something in a game, and tell the gamer that they should have had an amount of achievement equal to some B.S. currency. Is completing all the mission objectives in a game mission 2 times the achievement than doing some obscure trick?

If the player did something awesome and skilful, it should make sense within the context of the game. If I went out of my way to rush through the mission, the reward is having bested the challenge. If I take out the enemies base when I didn't strictly need to, the reward is that the enemy is weaker and it's easier to obtain success in that mission. If you're going to ask me to collect tokens in remote and hidden locations for no tangible benefit, then that's stupid, it makes no sense within the game. If you ask me to go out of my way to take on extra enemy forces with no benefit such as resources or diminished enemy strength, then I'd be stupid to spend my time doing so if progression is aim.

I make my own achievements....does that make me a lonely gamer?

Zhaosen wrote:

I make my own achievements....does that make me a lonely gamer?

I don't think so. I prefer that. I prefer to make my own fun and tell the stories with someone who shares my love of the game.

That I spent my first six hours base jumping in Just Cause 2 isn't rewarded like collecting 100 pigeons like in GTAIV (?). The reward is the random fun I had.

You are ruining your enjoyment - go and speak to some Stoics or Buddhists about it. I ignore achievements.

Zhaosen wrote:

I make my own achievements....does that make me a lonely gamer?

People have definitely been maxing stats and killing optional bosses long before there were achievements...

For me it's not achievements, it's the in-game "credits" that you earn to pay for things. The Outfit, Halo:Reach. Earning credits to unlock stuff I want or need in-game is kind of annoying.

beeporama wrote:
Zhaosen wrote:

I make my own achievements....does that make me a lonely gamer?

People have definitely been maxing stats and killing optional bosses long before there were achievements...

Yeah. I was just playing NCAA Football today trying to get a player with 300 yards passing, 100 yards receiving and 100 yards rushing in 1 game. No reason other than, just 'cause.

I think it wears off over time. I was all gung-ho for achievements for the first couple of years on the 360, then I got to the point where I just wanted to finish the game. Sometimes I will play on normal and not enjoy it as much if it's a frustrating game just so I can get the completion achievements, but even that is becoming rare these days.

I'll still take a multi-platform title on the 360 over the PS3 because of achievements (and to a lesser extent, Live). If the game is multiplayer focused, then it's a 99-1 instead of 75-25 split. I think it's the numeric score as opposed to a trophy count that does it for me.

Sinatar wrote:

I don't pay them any mind.

Yeah pretty much. I don't care about achievements, as in, I really don't care, so I don't pay them any mind, it's just a thing that pops up onscreen once in a while and is ignored much like a popup ad on a website.