Playing the Nintendo Switch got me thinking about why Nintendo has never had an achievement system. As somebody who has had an achievement obsession since 2008, I'd always thought that #Nintendo would have benefitted from adding those beloved digital rewards, but now I'm not so sure. I've always been one to play what I liked and while most of my gaming has revolved around score and trophies, there have always been games, like Super Smash Bros. and Pokémon, that have transcended that criteria. Overwatch on PC has achievements, but they don't do anything — besides earn you sprays — and that's still my preferred way to play.
I started to wonder why I could play those games for hours, but why I need trophies to get me through games like Horizon Zero Dawn. It comes down to a need to record and complete. I've always liked the idea of having a record of my gaming experience. Even in the early 2000s I remember trying to tape my playthrough of Ty the Tasmanian Tiger on the original Xbox. Achievements are a great way to see what you've done in a game and so fulfills the role of a record. The desire for completion is self-explanatory: I see a list of things to do and I want to check them all. It has now gotten out of hand, like when I wanted my game completion rate to be 100 percent on the #Xbox360 and started several new accounts just to try to get to that 100 percent. It never lasted.
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Every so often I'll get fed up with trying to get every achievement and will go through a phase where I turn them off. Like in the fall of 2016, on my personal blog, I detailed my first complete playthrough of the first BioShock. Of course I'd love for you to go read it in its entirety, but if you don't, here's the TL/DR. I was trying to get all the collectables for a trophy and I quickly lost interest. I felt bad that I was killing my playthrough of this fantastic game, so I decided to turn off my trophy notifications and beat it. I ended up loving it and I wanted to play all my games like that. Alas, somehow I slipped back into the trophy grind and went into full completion mode.
So here I am again, denouncing trophies and achievements but hopefully this time it's for good. I started playing through some of my Steam library — and hoo boy have I been missing out. I played through Superhot, which was so much fun and has a ton of re-playability, and right now I'm playing Owlboy, which I am beyond in love with. I really want to get back into gaming without achievements but I have this nagging desire to record and track my accomplishments in games. I do think that there are more meaningful ways to do that, like streaming, so I'm toying with the idea of getting into that.
I've been getting more into PC gaming so I hope that can help me kick my trophy-hunting habit. With games like Mass Effect: Andromeda, which my PC can't run, I'll have to revisit the #PS4, so I'll have to turn off trophy notifications. I'm also striving to beat more games, so hopefully listing finished games can satiate my need to cross off items on a checklist.
It'll be interesting to see how this changes my gaming landscape. I'll probably end up buying more PC games, since I'm not going to be worrying about trophies. Perhaps I'll be playing more games and not spending so much time on individual titles. I'm not sure if that's a good or bad thing. Perhaps I'll do updates every so often to see how my gaming habits change.
Until then, look out for Mass Effect: Andromeda, which releases tomorrow on PlayStation 4, Xbox One and PC, and tell us in the comments section your experiences with turning off trophy notifications.