The Problem with Achievements in Gaming

As a completionist, most people assume I generally do not have a problem with how achievements tend to work in gaming, but that’s not entirely true. I think when it comes down to it, I had a lot more fun when games were “simpler” and didn’t feature all these excessive requirements to get certain things.

That doesn’t mean all achievements are necessarily bad, but I think a lot of how they work nowadays is just kind of frustrating. There’s a lot of differences in how people play games and when it comes down to it, some ways are much more popular than others. I hate competitive Pokemon. This is an argument I have often with friends because while I dislike it greatly, a lot of my friends do it. I personally feel EVs and IVs and the Battle Frontiers are something that ruined Pokemon and I feel the series could be just as good without them.

One thing I always liked about the Pokemon series was the idea of going off on this journey and making these new friends to experience everything in your adventure. And EVs, IVs, and the Battle Frontier tend to contradict that message. If you’re Pokemon isn’t trained this way, doesn’t have these proper attacks, isn’t one of these… etc. etc. etc. I’ve heard so many things and in something as cheap as the Battle Frontier, it’s frustrating. I wouldn’t care as much if there wasn’t any reward to it (Statues, Ribbons, etc.), but as much is the key phrase here. As someone who loved being able to take on everything with a team who got you there in the first place and then being told “Stop. You’re not good enough.” is awful. It’s not a fun feeling. And seeing people tossing egg after egg because the Pokemon isn’t good enough or just replacing with ease makes me feel really sad. And that’s kind of what hits me–if you’re on a team with a group of people and you get to the final game, are you going to switch off the Weaker people for stronger ones just because they aren’t good enough? I’m sure there are people who would say yes, but how is that not heartless?

Smash Brothers is generally a game where I think most people would see me as a casual. I prefer playing with items on (especially just Pokeballs) and am not too keen on the Final Destination No items playing. To me, that kind of stuff makes Smash no different from most other fighting games. I love exploring stages and tossing items and just having fun with it. And that’s part of why the achievements in the game really frustrate me. There was something fun about just playing and hoping a trophy would fall. Having achievements for things I just don’t care about or wouldn’t do is very disheartening. I have no interest in ever doing the Master Fortress or whatever, but if I want all the trophies (one of my favorite things to get in Smash Brothers since the beginning), I don’t actually have a choice.

I like being able to play things how I want to play them and I think a lot of the fun comes in how differently people may play things, but when you put these kind of achievements out, it generally forces people to play one way. A strategy gets made to do them and if you don’t do it that way, it’ll be incredibly hard. This kind of stuff is why so many similar teams end up at the top of Pokemon competitions or why so many people use the same character in a fighting game. And what fun is it to just see the same thing over and over again?

I think if people want to play that way, they should be able to, but I also think that people shouldn’t be essentially cut off from completing or earning things just because they don’t want to play with the same character as everyone else or don’t enjoy a specific mode. Video games were made to be something you enjoy and when you have an obligation or have to suddenly use a character you don’t care for or a difficulty that is a bit much, it just stinks.

And I don’t think those rewards are really needed. If someone wants to play on a harder difficulty or challenge themselves, they can. I know I still do sometimes. But there’s a different for feeling up to it and having fun challenging yourself versus doing something and hating every moment just to get something you really like. And I feel the latter is happening more and more with forced achievements.

I don’t necessarily mind checking into games everyday, but I wish there wasn’t so much punishment if you didn’t. Sometimes you can’t actually progress and could get behind due to not checking in. Or like with Animal Crossing, your plants could all die and all your favorite villagers could leave you. At least the Beautiful Ordinance can help with the former, but the moving mechanic is incredibly broken and I wish they would make a way for you to keep villagers you’ve become attached to. As many people know, I’ve been having issues with the badges I have left as well as I generally don’t need any of the reasons why I would do what I have to. I love completing the museum, but once I have it done, I really have no reason to fish/dive or catch bugs much anymore. By then, I usually have as many bells as I need and it’s not really what I find most enjoyable about AC. Playing with friends and customizing my house and being friends with villagers is nice… except when you get too close and suddenly they want to move :| Or like with the Medals, I don’t need any of the items and I’ve played all the Tours by now… doing them over and over is the same repetitive stuff that gets incredibly boring at this point.

MMOs especially get into the whole “need to do things everyday” as you get towards the end. Dailies are stupid. They become a chore and when it comes down to it, you have enough chores to do in real life and they just aren’t very fun. Raids add in the same kind of chore-behavior pield with randomness and it’s just… dumb. You shouldn’t have to be forced to pair with tons of people to progress nor should you have to keep doing the same thing over and over. And yet this broken thing is what MMOs keep doing and it’s incredibly disappointing. I generally don’t care about having the best gear, but when I can’t progress through the story due to it, it gets upsetting. Especially as I generally play with only a couple of people and I’m not sure if I’d ever be comfortable being in a guild ever again.

But yes, in short I just wish Achievements were just a goal to aim for because you want to or because you find it fun and no longer became a thing that you were forced to do to get what you want. No, I don’t want to walk over objects without touching the floor for an entire level in an FPS just to get the pretty gun I like. No, I don’t want to play on the hardest difficulty to get the trophy I want.

If I put the time into a game and am having fun, there should still be a way to earn something I’d like without having to play a way that wouldn’t be fun. Because if video games aren’t fun anymore, then what’s the point in playing?