Achievement unlocked?

Just lately, I’ve found myself playing the games on PS3 which have trophies more than the ones which don’t. “Okay Ripper, what does that mean?” you might ask. Well, I don’t know. Maybe it’s the proud feeling when one pops up in the right hand corner of the screen. Perhaps it’s the fact that it means I get a lot of replay value out of those games and as such, the Scrooge in me feels compelled to play them more. It could be my competitive streak – I’m a member of several gaming communities where you can compare your current trophy level with other players. I just don’t know, but lately, I’ve become a damn trophy whore.

For the uninitiated, let me briefly explain the PS3 trophy system. For achieving certain feats or beating different points within the game, you can get trophies. A bronze is usually an easy trophy to get, silver is a bit more difficult and gold can be damn near impossible on some games (here’s looking at you, Bioshock). When you’ve got every trophy in the game, you get a platinum, which are pretty coveted on online communities. I only have one platinum, I’m not that hardcore. The Xbox 360 has a similar system with achievements – you get so many points for each one you unlock, eventually culminating in 1000 points per game. It’s an excellent tool for fuelling your online ego – boasting about how big your Gamerscore is, or how many platinums you’ve got. Trophy hunting takes discipline and hard work if you want to be the best. Some people dedicate every ounce of their free time to this endeavour. I like to think I’m a casual trophy whore, but then I downloaded Linger In Shadows because it had easy trophies to get and was cheap. So maybe this is growing into a kind of obsession.

The disturbing part of this is that it could overlap into real life. It already is in various respects – I scrobble everything I listen to on Last.FM in an effort to boost my play count to 15,000; I post on various forums and feel a little bit of joy when my post count hits another hundred or thousand; I collect tons of stuff and will spend relative amounts of money and time on rare action figures and so on. I could apply the trophy system directly to certain aspects of my life that I’m trying to do better in. Maybe that’s a good thing! It could be useful when it comes to my exams – get a bronze for finishing them all, get a gold for getting all A’s, get the platinum for getting into university. Who knows, if I think about it like that, I might spend less time writing articles like this and more time studying. I’m trying to get in shape this summer, so if I apply my new trophy system, that could help! Bronze for not touching chocolate until Fridays, silver for losing a few pounds, gold for going down a dress size. On the downside, there’s slightly creepier and lame ones which I won’t mention, but you get the picture.

Although, this could be applied on a wider scale, if you think about it. How about measuring your whole life in trophies? Bronze for every birthday you reach. Silver for doing every stupid thing you might want to try out. Gold for reaching something important – like getting the degree, getting married, having your first child. Those are achievements, even though the reward is the event itself. However, this is something worth thinking about. I don’t know what it is, but I’ve noticed a lack of ambition in my town as of late. It seems like a lot of people I know have just given up on trying to achieve anything, and when they do, it’s only because they’re pushed by somebody else, not because they really want it. Would a real life ‘trophy system’ help? The truth is, we all need goals before we get anywhere, otherwise we lack focus and give up. So, those dreams are my goals, and those are my trophies. I just hope I achieve enough of them to get the platinum before my time is up.

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