Are achievements in video games harmful to the users themselves or are they an instrument used to give players a sense of accomplishment?
Reward systems within a game is not a new thing in the industry ever since the early days of the game development they had to give their players a reason for them to put hours or even minutes into their games whether it be through leveling a character or even just your initials next to a score on a board. Probably one of the most prevalent examples of a extrinsic reward system implemented more recently would be the Xbox Gamerscore system.
“In 2005 Microsoft introduced a new motivation system called Gamerscore through their Xbox Live (Microsoft, 2002(B)) service and with it came Achievements (Griffith, 2013), small extrinsic rewards which are awarded the player for doing a specific task within a game.”
To some players these achievements are necessary in justifying their time spent within a title and some even chase them as a sense of pride. For example there is a channel on YouTube that exist purely for the purpose of showing others how to chase the much harder achievements shown below.
Not only can these be used as a sense of completing a task they can also bring a source of enjoyment to the user.
“Acquiring is often associated with positive emotions, such as pleasure and excitement, motivating individuals who experience these emotions while acquiring to keep acquiring, despite negative consequences.”
This system stems from reality as well with our need to feel like the time we invest in activities is actually worth something even if it isn’t necessarily tangible.
“Money and love, for example. A paycheck may seem ‘solid,’ but it represents an abstraction. And what’s more abstract than earning an ‘A’ in philosophy?… Small things can be quite rewarding. A smile from a cute girl may be a small thing, but it can make a teenage boy’s week.”
They also give you a benchmark for the players to keep track of as well for things that in most cases are quite difficult and time consuming, so players can hang their virtual much loved memories of their favorite game within their profile for all to see and compare to as well.
Achievements can also be used by the developers themselves to collect interesting player data and trends that their players take part in to reach these goals in particular.
“For example, the third most unlocked achievement in TF2 is “Race For the Pennant – Run for 25 kilometers”, indicating that the majority of players are extremely mobile when playing. The statistics also suggest it is far easier to survive being burned, bludgeoned and receive explosive damage in one life (Rasputin) than it is to survive a direct hit from a rocket (Crock Block).”
So all together the need for achievements within video games is both necessary in keeping a large majority of players fulfilled with their time spent and also to keep developers in the loop with what gamers like to aim for within their titles. Beside the more obvious in your face achievements the more slight ones will always run in the background of most titles they make killing those same enemies over and over again worth it just so you can unlock that one sword or perk.
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