Columns & Blogs

Game on for achievement points

Microsoft obviously knew that gamers love rewards.

When designing the Xbox 360, the technology giant decided to give the gamer a little extra for every game played.

Back in the Nintendo and Sega Genesis days, beating a game was a reward enough. When I bought a non-sports game, my only goal was to beat it. I felt a tremendous sense of accomplishment the first time I finished “Contra” or “Double Dragon.” But back then, there was no way to really show off your achievement. I could brag about it sure, but unless someone was watching me play, you couldn’t really share that joy with others.

During the PlayStation and PlayStation 2 era, games started to add a statistic that showed how close you were to a completed game. This accounted for beating the game, as well as finding all the secrets.

But no company went as far as Microsoft, which ensured that it’s not just about beating a game anymore.

The creation of the 360 also signaled the arrival of achievement points.

Now, you get points for beating the game. You get points for beating certain bosses. You get points for just about everything.

When I beat a game now, I still feel that same sense of accomplishment, but I also wait to hear that computerized sound that signals an unlocked achievement.

The message pops up on the screen, letting me know the achievement I have unlocked and how many points it was worth.

The system allows most games 1,000 points worth of achievements. Some games choose to make their achievements easy, while others make you really earn points.

Every point you earn is added to your overall Gamerscore. The score is available for all your friends to see on Xbox Live, making it unnecessary to brag about beating games. Your friends can see for themselves.

Unlocking achievement points can be addictive, so much so that I have friends that will strive to unlock all 1,000 points for a game. And that makes for some pretty specific gaming — one achievement on NCAA Football 09 requires you to score a rushing touchdown with your punter.

That Gamerscore is a point of pride in the gaming community. Some people treat the score like they do friend counts on MySpace or Facebook, which is a ridiculous way to measure one’s self-worth.

For me, achievement points are another gaming reward, and I don’t think you can ever get enough of those.