Trophies & Achievements: 3 Reasons Why We Hunt

Accomplishment awards play a significant role in modern video games, from PlayStation trophies to Xbox Achievements. What drives a relatively small percentage of gamers to go the extra mile for some intangible gaming cred? Here are three reasons why we trophy/achievement hunt.

Trophies & achievements - three reasons why we huntCompletion and achievement have always played a role in video games. Whether it’s beating your friend’s high score on Space Invaders or hunting for those hidden gems in Crash Bandicoot, the concept of ‘completion’ was already firmly rooted in culture. Around the mid-2000s, that concept evolved with an industry embracing online gameplay and ways of maintaining competitiveness and that sense of achievement.

Two different methods of achievement accumulation were born. Xbox introduced Gamerscore, and PlayStation embraced a more familiar form of achievement – trophies. Over a decade later, an entire group of people strive to gather these symbols of accomplishment until all trophies have been hunted and achievements mopped up. The question I intend to answer is why? Why have these intangible bits of metal or Gamerscore become so integral to many gamers’ experiences? Here are three reasons why we Trophy and achievement Hunt.

Overcoming The Challenge

my palms clammy, gripping my controller tight. For six months, I had tried and failed to take down the most demanding boss I’d encountered in many years. As Kratos charged a heavy attack from the Leviathan Axe, the Valkyrie Queen prepared to end yet another failed attempt, and then it happened. Bringing the axe down upon her, she knelt on the ground, the R3 button hovering over her. In shock, I almost forgot to press for the finishing animation. Pausing the game, I sat there in silent adulation. I hadn’t simply beaten her; I had overcome her.

The Valkyrie Queen boss has earned it’s place as one of the toughest bosses in recent memory

The Valkyrie Queen boss has earned it’s place as one of the toughest bosses in recent memory.

Gaining the God of War platinum reaffirmed my belief in the meaning of trophy hunting. It isn’t simply a measure of completion; it’s overcoming a challenge you believe to be beyond your skill. The Valkyrie Queen took me six months and several rage quits to best. Sigrun is the most brutal boss I’ve ever faced out of the 63 platinum trophies I have at the time of writing. With the incentive of that intangible trophy, I found the will, skill, and patience to overcome. Without that incentive, I could’ve missed a feeling of elation I’ve rarely felt in 25 years of playing video games. 

Getting The Whole Experience 

Time is an all-to-often sparse commodity at the best of times. Still, I’ve always considered a game, specifically an RPG, as something to be savoured. Alas, this is rarely the case. We play the main narrative, dabble in side quests and set an entire world aside to lay on a shelf. Once a piece of entertainment, now part of a post-game collection, likely never to be played again. For such a fate to befall The Witcher 3, Skyrim or Cyberpunk 2077 would be a tragic mistake. All too often, we only ever scratch the surface of these massive worlds.

Look at all that land, and the secrets hidden within.

Look at all that land, and the secrets hidden within.

It’s here where trophies and achievements help capture not just half an experience but the whole experience. A side quest in some secluded part of the game world may hold that golden nugget of storytelling that takes a game from incredible to unforgettable. Still, you may only play it if a trophy is connected to it. The same goes for weapons and collectables that could completely change the flow and difficulty of combat, forever hidden because there wasn’t an achievement pushing you to find it. When the platinum trophy pops, you know you’ve experienced all or the vast majority of what the game offers.

The Economic Argument 

Looking back at childhood, I remember endless hours of gaming, only interrupted by School or family obligations. With adulthood comes a new kind of freedom, hampered by two resources – time and money. This unfortunate Reality adds an economic element to the hobby. Every time you buy a game or accessory, you make an investment. This factor has streamlined my purchases over recent years, focusing less on buying the latest AAA releases. Instead, I’m focused on genres, franchises and new IPs I know I want to play or that capture my wanderlust. 

Red Dead Redemption 2 is a prime example of a ‘bang for your buck platinum’, taking easily over 100 hours to platinum

Red Dead Redemption 2 is a prime example of a ‘bang for your buck platinum’, taking easily over 100 hours to platinum.

Trophy hunting plays its part in this economic question also. Games are expensive, and I want to know if I buy a £70 game, I can experience everything and eventually pop the platinum. Online trophies? Nope! Insane difficulty-related achievements? Hard pass. I go into every new title with the intention of platinuming it, with one stipulation – no shovelware (games designed to earn easy platinums). This may sound like a limitation, but it’s led to me revisiting older games that, for whatever reason, I neglected when they were initially released. Gaming may be an expensive hobby, but trophies and achievement hunting ease that initial cost, in my experience.

Conclusion 

Video games are all things to all people. Trophy or achievement hunting is simply one method by which a growing section of the community derives achievement, but most importantly, enjoyment. Still, trophies have entirely changed how I approach my hobby and, without a doubt, revitalised my passion and enthusiasm for this medium we adore.

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