There and Back Again, an Achievement Whore’s Tale

I can say that all of my gaming falls between two categories, MUDs and console gaming (XBox 360, and Wii)

My life as a gamer began as just a 4 year old little boy glued to the TV playing Super Mario Brothers on the NES and eating Lucky Charms (I now eat Frosted Flakes).  I found myself to be quite good at these games and was fond of many other NES titles such as Double Dragon, Super Mario Bros 3 (an all time favorite) and Castlevania.  As the years moved on I progressed with Nintendo obtaining an SNES, several of the various Game Boy incarnations (starting with the original brick) and then of course – one of my greatest obsessions, the N64.  Games by standards back then were much different than now, it isn’t very often that I think about the reason as to what made these games so great that years later, I frequently find myself playing them on the Wii’s Virtual Console.  These games told stories, they immersed you in places you could only dream up and challenged you to use every resource your brain had available.  I see those days as the Golden Age of gaming.  Games like The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time is in my opinion – the greatest game ever to be created.  I did own a Game Cube and a PS2 after that as well, but as the time went by my interest slowly faded.

Over a year ago I found myself in South Korea on a military assignment, there for an entire year.  In trying to make the year go by I turned my attention back to gaming.  I had all ready purchased a Wii prior to arriving but I needed something more time consuming as most Wii games will only hold your attention for an hour at best.  I turned to the 360.  I thought that I had really fallen in love with gaming again, I played all the time – games like Grand Theft Auto 4, Call of Duty 4, Bioshock, Assassin’s Creed, Dead Space and more – all of them are really great games.  This phase of intense gaming lead me to create a podcast called Game Seers and then later an entire video game podcast network! [Vagary.TV] – I produced over 36 episode of Game Seers but my enthusiasm slowly but surely began to fade.  I only recently have realized why.

My primary draw to the 360 was Achievement Points – I couldn’t get enough of them.  I even played games that sucked just for points!  I was a complete Achievement Whore!  These may be fun hunting down and trying to get them but there is a dark secret about these things…  They are compensation.  Think about it, how many times did you play classics like Ocarina of Time or Final Fantasy 7 after you beat it?  If you are like me, you can’t even begin to count and there were no achievement points!  Now – how many times do you turn back and play an XBox game after you beat it?  Probably not at all, unless its to get achievement points.  It dawned on me, the old games didn’t need achievement points – they were just really great games!  Sure, GTA4 is fun – but is it great?  Places like IGN gave it a 10 – but is a 10?  I don’t think so…  Achievement points are essentially developers admitting upfront, “You won’t want to replay this game so at least try to get some achievements.”  The points are nothing more than a virtual dick waving contest.  You can’t buy anything with them so what is the point?  I’m not trying to say that new consoles suck or anything, but just pose something to think about.  Do you really love the games of today the way you loved games as a child?  I know I sure don’t.  If you’re a young person now playing these games and never experienced the classics when they released then I feel sorry that you missed out but I implore you to put graphics aside and try some of these games.  They are outstanding!

Until next time,
Ryan K.

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