It's been a long time since I've written a blog - these days I find it difficult to express my thoughts coherently. I used to write blogs all the time back on Gamespot, I'm not sure why it's been so difficult for me to do so these days... maybe I'm just getting old. ;)
That said, since I have 5-6 hours to kill on my flight back to San Francisco from PAX East, I thought it would be appropriate to try to write some of my thoughts down. I've always been an extraverted person, and writing things (or talking to people) really helps me collect my thoughts.
I've been thinking about the current state of gaming alot recently and I like to believe that I'm getting what I'd like to call accomplishment fatigue. With the advent of achievements, there seems to be an endless checklist of things to do in games. At first, XBL achievements were often trivial - getting all 1000/1000 points on a game could be fairly easy. As time has progressed, there are games with more difficult or tedious achievements. While I don't actually care much about gamerscore itself, seeing what amounts to a checklist of things that I could be doing makes the OCD side of me go absolutely crazy. It almost feels like I don't complete games now unless I actually get all of the achievements, but I know that I don't have the attention span to actually complete all of them. So I am stuck in this limbo where I don't feel like I've finished something, even if I have actually completed the campaign/story mode. I wish I could just ignore it and move on with my life, but everytime I see that incomplete gamerscore it pains me a little.
With Xbox Live, Steam, World of Warcraft and even Playstation all having achievements of some sort, it seems that everything I play wants to reward me for accomplishing things that I may not have tried to do on my own. Though the purpose of this is supposed to extend the life of a game and give some added fun, it actually stresses me a bit - if I'm not doing all of this stuff, am I actually getting the full value out of my game? Am I just being neurotic? The answer is probably yes, but that's who I am and I've come to accept it.
The worst part of all of this is that I'm a fairly competitive person to begin with - everything I do I always strive to do better each time. With leaderboards on XBL as well as competitive ladders and tournaments becoming more and more prominent, I have a hard time even enjoying multiplayer games these days. It's sort of this defeatist attitude - if I can't be one of the best, why even bother playing at all? This attitude prevents me from really getting into fighting games anymore - I have played with some of the best in the world and I know they are leagues ahead of where I am. It's really stupid that I'd compare myself with them, but all the same, it's killed any motivation I ever had to play fighters. Being a competitive person really is a curse - you find it hard to enjoy things because you're always analyzing ways to get better. This also applies to the achievement/trophies systems - if I had the time, I would try to outdo my friends' achievements on specific games but given my limited spare time I know I'll never catch up - that also adds to my aforementioned predicament of getting fatigued.
In the midst of all of this though, I find that I can retreat to the older systems and to my DS to recapture what it is that made me love gaming to begin with. My household has acquired 4 arcade systems in the past few months (Golgo 13, Street Fighter Alpha 3, Area 51 and The Simpsons). There's something really joyous about playing with someone right next to you, and the feel of an arcade cabinet. The charm and nostalgia of a SNES or PS1 game also always bring that joy back, and my DS is probably my most played system these days, thanks to games like Ace Attorney, Professor Layton and Pokemon (any of them! I'm such a sucker). There's no pressure to compete, no pressure to get all the achievements or trophies, and I can just enjoy the ride.