I Did it for the Trophies
When it comes to trophies/achievements, people seem to polarize. Are they arbitrary symbols of inane goals added to artificially lengthen a game, or are they valid objectives? The answer is both. Developers have been putting “extra things to do” in video games for a very long time; trophies are just an out-of-game way of pointing it out. I like trophies. Some games don’t do it right, but others are really worth it. For me, getting a platinum trophy is the highest compliment that I can pay a developer. With my schedule, I can only afford to invest that kind of time into games that I consider fun.
Since the dawn of video games, I have used two different words to describe how finished a game is. If I get through all the main levels or finish the story, then I’d say I “beat” that game. If I decide to go back and nab all the collectibles, finish side quests, or beat all the developer times, etc. the game reaches the illustrious status of “mastered.” I guess I’m a completionist, because, when I like a game a lot, I feel a nagging guilt if I don’t do it all. In one of my all time favorites, Donkey Country 2, I would lose sleep until I saw that 102% save data on the menu screen. That was all the reward I needed. It was my compliment to Rare for a job well done. While the in-game reward is sometimes the goal, most of the time I prefer the intrinsic value of knowing I’ve accomplished something difficult. It is the same now, I just say I got all the achievements or I platinumed it instead.
The problem with the rewards systems is that sometimes stupid tasks get added to games for no apparent reason other than to achieve a trophy. If games were consistently being shaped on reward systems, that could be a problem, but for the most part, it doesn’t really seem to be that big of a deal. Other people laud their gamertag or trophy level as way to show how awesome they are. These people generally suck, and the rewards system isn’t what caused that. Trophy whores will burn out once they realize that some games just aren’t worth beating completely. Once again, this doesn’t bother me too much, either.
What bothers me about the rewards system is when I love a game and want to complete everything, but some of the trophies are ridiculous. Trying to get all the trophies can turn a fun game into a chore. Look up the trophies for 3D Dot Game Heroes. I platinumed that game, and it almost ruined it for me. In a perfect world, that wouldn’t happen. I only did it, because I want Atlus to make more games like that.
That’s why I like trophies. For me, it sends a message. It says to the game makers, “Yes! You did this right. I want more of this.” To be completely honest, though, I also like how shiny they are.