This afternoon, I decided to start playing BioShock again because I wanted to go back and get all the achievements I could before going back and trying to pass the game on HARD mode without dying (Brass Balls).
As I’m waiting for the game to load, I start mentally running through all of the things that I need to do. I have a HANDWRITTEN list of the 25 achievements I still need, as well as maps showing me where all the U-Invent and weapon upgrade stations are (Avid Inventor, Ammo Inventor, Weapon Specialist), as well as where I can find the plasmids, tonics and audio logs (Tonic Collector, Maxed Out All Tracks, Historian)that I missed the first time around. I also reminded myself that once I kill Sandor Cohen, I need to photograph his body (Irony), even though I’m only in the Medical Pavilion right now.
It suddenly occurred to me that I have a problem, and this problem is Achievement Whoreism. I am scum.
Right now, my Xbox record for achievements revolves around Lego Indiana Jones. 45 out of 50 achievements completed, 880 points earned out of 1000. Even though this is a LEGO game, some of the achievements are no easy task. Destroying 100 snakes? That took about an hour and involved standing under a vent that spat out one snake at a time about every 20 seconds. There are several areas that are teeming with snakes, but you can’t actually kill them, even though they will happily kill you. God forbid you’re actually playing Indy, who turns into a quivering bitch at the sight of snakes and won’t go anywhere near them.
What the hell is it with gamers and achievements?
My first experience with achievements was in World of Warcraft almost 2 years ago, right before the Wrath of the Lich King (WOTLK) expansion came out. I had rage quit and canceled my account and was having a grand old time in Warhammer Online. I figured I would chill for a couple of months before WOTLK came out. When I came back a month before release, my screen lit up with achievements that I had apparently earned while eyeball deep in Dwarf, Empire and High Elf corpses.
It was now acknowledged by the powers that be that I had defeated Ragnaros, Onyxia and all of their level 60 Elite buddies. Never mind that it was 3 years late. I looked through the list of achievements that I had earned, and what I still had to do.
“Hmmm,” I thought. “This might make the game more tolerable while we wait for expansions. Some of it even looks pretty challenging!” And so it began. Suddenly, of all of my guild mates wanted to start working on achievements. People that weren’t on a lot were suddenly on most nights, and the guild really came together as a team to accomplish some of the harder achievements, as well as helping out fellow guildies.
What achievements REALLY did was breathe some life back into a game that was floundering in nothingness for far too long. It gave us a strange purpose, and made going back and doing the little things worth it because now you could brag that you had done all 1200+ quests in Kalimdor AND Eastern Kingdoms (Loremaster), and that you were so much better than that loser who had only done 800 Loremaster quests.
However… as far as Lego Indy and BioShock are concerned, getting achievements extends the games you love for just a bit longer.