Following in the footsteps of featured DToid writer Reverand Anthony, I will explore many of the nitpicky reasons as to why gaming as a entertainment medium is failing and what we need to see and accept for gaming to recover and be respectible again.
Today I actually had the (mis)pleasure of buying the new TMNT - Reshelled game for the XBA. Within about a 2 hour period, I was able to achieve all but two of them. (Incoming micro review in 3.2.1...) When having it be the successor to one of my favorite SNES games, Ubisoft dropped the ball. While TMNT was not or is known for the story, Ubisoft managed to take whatever GOOD part(s) of the original and ripped it all out. No Rat King. No technodrome level. No pre-final shredder boss fight where you fling foot soldiers at his mechwarrior like thinger. While I can imagine that rights between Konami and Ubisoft probably played part in why these gaping holes are now present, it isn't why I started this entry.
I'd stated that out of the first two hours of the game, I got all but two of the achievements to get in the game. And unfortunately, I purchased the game well knowing of the fact a good majority of the achievements were easy to get. Yes, that's right. I, Ryan Schneider, am a Gamerscore whore. Ever since the addition of Gamerscore to the 360 (and implementation of the trophies well after the launch of the PS3), we as gamers look towards these milestones as a way to extend gameplay (especially in single player video forays), gain Gamerpoints to add to a seemingly useless final score that does nothing but to show off our gamer peni in points format.
I'll admit that they get us to try and explore more of the developers have added to the game. It gives us that satisfying "blooping" noise upon completion after spending multiple trial and error retrys to achieve that one missing goal. Lastly, there is a bit of pride that goes into being to show off our gamer achievements via our profiles.
And to that I say....so what?
Gamerscores are nothing more than a marketing gimmick along the lines of MMO's that will have gamers flush endless hours of time to achieving points that do absolutely nothing. For those that are crying bullshit to my thesis, go to your profile and message me how many gamer points you have and how it really changed your life in any way. Did you obtain some sort of epiphany after obtaining the last skull in Halo 3 and that it changed your whole perspective on life as a whole? What are you going to do now after you get over 100,000xp points in Red Faction Guerrilla?
I'm sorry as well that it took M$ upwards to 5 years to give gamers the ability to actually have their achievements points amass to something that is somewhat used. You'd think that within the 5 year time period they'd give some sort of marketplace to spend these points that would access different content locked in the game, upcoming projects or privy to enter in contests and drawings used for games, consoles, codes for arcade titles and etc.
The problem is the system is currently abused. Much like the fucks that poke through movies to find that a certain glass is full in one scene and not in the other - we scour the internet to see how we can quickly obtain a hard achievement by bending the games code to manipulate in a way to obtain these points. I'll give credit to those that spend the time to either figure out the puzzle or invest the time to obtaining something and there will always people that don't have the time or patience to figure it out. But I'd like to think that one day, there would be something to make something like gamer points be some sort of "currency" that would be cool additional part of games we will get in the future.
The unfortunate part of this was that this is where the evolution of gaming headed too. Giving a little extra game play time to a game that we would normally shelf of trade in after a play through. The problem is - why would we do that? I keep movies and books to watch and read over and over again. But I don't get that with games. I have more of a tendency to trade in games for newer ones rather than trade in movies or music for newer ones. I'd like to feel that I can keep a game where I could pop in and enjoy like a book or movie. I'm not talking multiplayer here either. I unfortunately can't think of a game in the past three years where I can get in and play it over and over again in being a great single player experience. Maybe Portal but the last game I can only think of Half Life 2 having that movie/book like quality to it.
In the end, I'm giving Gamerscores/Trophies a bad rap when in essence, its a good idea. There are good achievements out there that do enhance the experience of the game and and give the player a sense of accomplishment for doing something they wouldn't do. However when achievements act like grinds to get them (win X amount of MP matches or obtain X amount of experience), there is absolutely no point to having them at all. Unless we either focus these achievements in being something that would make sense to explore all of the content or really expand our mind on how we look on a game, we will continue to devolve this medium into a unrecoverable mess that we cannot save.