“Nobody cares, Trophies are meaningless”
These are the blunt words someone expressed to me on Twitter.
This annoyed me. Sure there are tons of people out there who couldn’t care less about those little things that pop up once you do something, go somewhere or collect an item. But they mean something to me, to quote the wrestling fan video on YouTube – “It’s still real to me, dammit!”
I could easily argue that the real trophies that football teams win also mean nothing outside of their game. Is a Premier League trophy anything other than something to just display? Is an Olympic medal nothing more than just a metal circle that represents something that happened? They’re just objects that represents an accomplishment, the same as PSN Trophies and XBL Achievements. Sure, they’re not tangible but it doesn’t make them any less important to a person who collects or has worked hard for them.
Trophies/Achievements since their inception have taken off, they are now a requirement set down by Microsoft and Sony to game developers. Some gamers don’t care but to me they are more than just pointless little accolades.
Turn back the hands of time say, 15 years, to my days of PlayStation 2. Back then I’d play a game on “Easy Mode”, would rarely bother challenging myself on higher difficulties, I’d just play the game and be done with it, move on to the next title. I wouldn’t bother with finding all the hidden collectables, unlock characters or content, basically play the game to its full potential, how the developers intended.
For example, Devil May Cry on PS2, loved the game but never ventured above Easy mode. Little to my knowledge at the time, this mode removed certain fights to make it a smoother experience for the inexperienced. So basically I missed out because I didn’t want to challenge myself.
Now travel forward a few years to PS3 and “Trophies” Sure the Xbox 360 had achievements first but this is based on my own gaming history.
At first when the PS3 didn’t have trophies, one of my early games was Resistance: Fall of Man. I played on normal and thought nothing of it; was a good game and my first steps into the “next-gen” but I bought my old PS2 habits with me.
Now, what broke my “lazy” gaming habits was the addition of trophies. Trophies made me push my gaming skills further, it’s difficult to put it into words but I made trophy hunting a core part of my gaming in order to achieve a game’s completion. I started to use trophies to hone my skills on games, I moved up on difficulties and spent more time exploring the games, enjoying them more than just on a gameplay level, stopping to smell the digital roses as it were.
These days when I get a new game, whether a brand new release or a HD “remake” I always start off on hard mode or it’s equivalent because I feel the need to be challenged by the software. Sure the reward for hours of swearing and frustration is a little image, a “ding” and bragging rights but isn’t that what gaming has been about all along?
What about when you go into an arcade and see the high-scores screen, see that “BOB M” has 1 billion points in Time Crisis, isn’t that the exact same principles that trophies and achievements were founded on? Simple, nerdy bragging rights?
When it comes down to it, I’m not saying they’re necessary for everyone to enjoy their games, play your games on Easy, play just for the story if that’s what floats your boat but for me and no doubt millions of other gamers trophy/achievement-hunting has shaped us into more serious gamers, the “hardcore” demographic that we hear so much around the Internet.
Because of trophies I am a better, more confident gamer and I am grateful for it as I derive pleasure from my sadomasochistic tendencies whilst playing the hardest mode, on the final boss, trying to defeat it without taking any damage for an intangible gold trophy.
I’m not saying that I try to acquire the Platinum (the trophy you are awarded for acquiring all other trophies in a PS3 game) for every single game I buy or play, no. I still play games for the exact same reason as anyone else; entertainment. If a game doesn’t grip me or I find it a chore to play I simply won’t bother, I’ll finish it (sometimes I don’t even get that far if it’s truly awful), be done and move on. Now, if a game I’m playing really excites me, makes me think about it whilst at work, eager to get home and play, isn’t it worth trying for all the trophies? Wouldn’t you want to get the most out of it by trying to complete all the challenges the developers have laid down before you?
I love the trophy-hunting subculture that has been created in this generation of consoles, I enjoy discussing them with fellow hunters, reading walk-throughs and strategies and just the pride of the community. There are people out there with double, even triple the amount of my collection but it’s more than just icons. I scroll through them and each one has a specific memory linked to it, as well as the date and time of acquisition.
There will always be haters, people who only see them as silly, trivial “accomplishments” in a digital realm that bears no importance in the real world but take a moment and analyse gaming as a whole; gaming isn’t the real world. It’s human nature to collect. This is my collection and I’m proud of it.