Achievements in Games: Do they change your gaming habits?

We stumbled across an article about achievements and trophies on VentureBeat. Playfire got a mention there and it popped right into our sights.

It got a few of us talking about how we treat achievements in games, and how a few of us personally feel about achievements in games. George has been mentioned a few times on the blog before, he works on the Green Man Gaming marketing desk, and Sam AKA Joncol, the Playfire Community Manager.

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Sam: I like achievements because it makes me do things I wouldn't do otherwise. I see more of the game. Like finding easter eggs for collectibles.

George: I don't change the way I play to get achievements, but if I'm within touching distance of one I would try to get it. Take F1 for example, if there's an achievement to win a race starting at the back of the grid I'll go for it.

James: But then that's just trying to come first instead of specifically trying to get the cheev.

George: Yeah, I'm more just putting myself in a position to get the achievement anyway when winning the race, which I planned on doing anyway.

James: I just don't find them relevant. I mean I can see how it might expand gameplay for lot of people by adding extra challenges they wouldn't think of doing. But for me they're just a complete afterthought to my gaming experience.  Take Nazi Zombie Army for example, when we played that we were getting different achievements for various feats of true zombie destruction, but it just doesn't influence what I'm doing or how I play. I'm just playing to complete the mission and kill zombies. After we'd finished there was something like "Killed 20 zombies with 1 explosive," and it just feels like a note saying this is what I did, rather than "Wow you totally achieved this!"

George: Have you ever restarted a game for missing an achievement at the beginning of it?

James: Me? No.

Sam: I don't think so. I've definitely replayed levels to get an achievment in L.A. Noire. I pretty much had all the achievements so I just kept trying to get it. I managed to 100% it.

James: Was it worth it?

Sam: Yeah.

George: I nearly managed 100% F1 2010. I wouldn't try to 100% it because the world has moved on, as the newer games came out.

James: Do you find its just for your own enjoyment in terms of seeing everything a game has to offer, or so you can show off (like finishing Dark Souls) to mates?

Sam: I'm a bit of a completionist.  I haven't done it for every game, only a couple. I've almost got Skyrim to 100% completion, including the DLCs. That's taken over 300 hours.

George: If you add the entire F1series together I've clocked more than 380 hours.

James: The most I generally spend on any one game is about 50-100 hours. It's pretty unusual that I go higher than that. I normally get bored of them by then and move onto something else, shiny, new, and interesting.

Sam: They generally keep my attention for longer than that. (Skyrim case in point)

James: I've played Skyrim for about 90 hours. I did the main storyline, along with the Dark Brotherhood and Thieves Guild lines. I explored a fair bit but I know there will be lots I never saw. It's a solid game but I still get bored. A travesty that some people point out to me.

Achievements just seem like window dressing, like Team Fortress 2 hats. Obviously challenges and achievements add more gametime, but it doesn't change what the game is at it's core.

Sam: It's a compulsive thing. You feel you're missing out where theres a game without any achievements, like Nintendo games. If you leave a game on the shelf without completing there's a permanent record of how much you didn't do in the game.

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What do you think? Are achievements brilliant? Should there be more? Less?