Debate: Embracing or Disabling Achievements and Trophies

Added value, or added distraction?

Debate: Embracing or Disabling Achievements and Trophies
Are you willing to fully enjoy a game by pursuing trophies?

Achievements and trophies have become more than just virtual badges.

They've evolved into a cultural phenomenon, adding an extra layer of challenge and satisfaction to gaming experiences. With so many websites and communities dedicated to them, it seems like this extra level isn't disappearing anytime soon.

But what's the word among gamers? Do they adore them? Think they enhance the experience? Or do they just see them as a nuisance, with some opting to ignore them completely?

A recent Twitter poll run by PlayStation Polygons shed light on a divisive question: If you could turn achievements/trophies off, would you?

Surprisingly, the results revealed a relatively split opinion, with 36.5% in favour of deactivating achievements and trophies, while 63.5% preferred to keep them activated.

This polarisation prompts a deeper examination of the role achievements play in gaming communities and the potential reasons behind the divergent perspectives. For many gamers, achievements and trophies are an enticing incentive, encouraging exploration, mastery, and total completion of in-game challenges.

Thanks to trophies on PlayStation, I've delved into depths I never would have before, so I understand the appeal. On the other hand, I can empathise with why others would find them distracting.

Basically, when you look at it from a design psychology angle, achievements act as validation, confirming the player's abilities and commitment.

They also foster a sense of community among gamers.

Websites like Power Pyx and True Achievements are flooded with discussions, strategies, and tips centred around achieving specific goals.

Whether it's completing a game on the highest difficulty setting or unlocking a rare item, the pursuit of achievements creates a shared experience, bonding gamers together in their quest for virtual glory.

Immersion Breakers

However, despite the widespread enthusiasm for achievements, a significant portion of the gaming community expressed a desire to opt-out.

Their reasons vary, but common themes include the perceived distraction from the core gameplay experience, the pressure to fulfil arbitrary objectives, and the tendency for achievements to dictate playstyles rather than allowing for organic exploration.

For some, the constant pop-ups and notifications associated with achievements can disrupt immersion, pulling them out of the game world and into a meta-reality focused solely on chasing virtual rewards.

This sentiment aligns with the notion that gaming should be about the journey rather than the destination, with players preferring to savour the experience without the distraction of achievement hunting.

Xbox 360's implementation of achievements was introduced by Microsoft in 2005. This system allowed players to earn virtual rewards for completing specific tasks or reaching milestones in games.

Achievements can inadvertently incentivise certain behaviours that detract from the intended enjoyment of the game.

Players may find themselves prioritising tasks solely for the sake of earning achievements, rather than engaging with the game's narrative or mechanics in a meaningful way.

Man has earned 1200 Platinum trophies on PlayStation but is angry with Sony  for this reason
Happy days? Hakam Karim after earning his 1,200th Platinum trophy on PlayStation.

The Twitter poll results, therefore, carry significant implications for game designers and the gaming community as a whole. While the majority of gamers appear to embrace achievements as a positive addition to their gaming experience, a sizable minority highlights the need for greater flexibility and customisation options.

Game designers may consider implementing features that allow players to tailor their experience by enabling or disabling achievements according to their preferences.

Giving players this level of flexibility could enhance player agency and promote inclusivity within gaming communities.

Different gamers have different tastes and goals when it comes to achievements and trophies. Some find these digital prizes essential for their gaming satisfaction, while some prefer to have the option to ignore them and play games as they like.

What it really comes down to is choice, and ultimately, gamers should be able to opt out of achievements and trophies if they want.