I used to hate achievements and trophies.
I know what you’re thinking – bold statement, right? Weird statement. After all, achievements and trophies are supposed to be good things. Badges of honour, they’re tangible proof of your awesomeness and give credence to your gaming claims. It’s impossible to look at a profile boasting 100,000G and not be (albeit begrudgingly) impressed. And whilst I really do appreciate all that . . . well, none of it mitigates the fact that my life was better without them. The day Microsoft introduced achievements was the day my ever-so-slightly-inflated gaming ego crumbled. The truth was out: I’m shit at video games.
Okay, okay – maybe I’m not completely crap. I’m probably better than, say, your grandmother. Or maybe your cat. I’m probably better than most in my demographic too, but that’s only because I’m hurtling towards middle-age at a pace that terrifies me and most of my peers grew up playing with hoops and sticks and not Chuckie Egg. Still, comparatively speaking? Comparatively speaking I’m probably pretty average.
My problem? Well, where should I start? My co-ordination is – and always have been – laughable. My reflexes are about as sharp as a damp paper towel. It takes me roughly three months to adjust to a control scheme and I’m usually getting accustomed just as I complete a game. Well: if I complete a game. To be honest, my life is punctuated by a long, embarrassing list of half-finished titles. Ask me why I’d probably blame a whole host of things – work! Writing! Sleeping! Mummying! Breathing! – but it’s bollocks, really. I’m simply rubbish . . . and a vehement supporter of the oh-my-God -why-won’t-he-die-this-is-
Thing is, my ineptitude never used to bother me. Yeah, I sucked and yeah, it took me ages to finish a game, but that never dampened my enjoyment any. Why would it? NO-ONE EVER FOUND OUT.
And so commenced the panic. The paranoia. The unwavering belief that no-one would – could – take me seriously as a gamer if I didn’t have a Gamerscore worth boasting about. My achievement list – or, more accurately, those achievements missing – were merely evidence of every game I’m crap at . . . which was (is!) pretty much all of them, really.
And then I stopped. Took a breath. Calmed down. Grew up.
Know what? You don’t have to have six-digit Gamerscore to enjoy video games. Nor is it mandatory to complete everything on EXTREME-DEATH mode in order to employ a legitimate perspective on gaming. There are no prerequisites, no entrance exams. I’m sure life is better when you’re not caught in a spawn/die-spawn/die cycle in Call of Duty, but to be honest my life isn’t worse because of it, either. Providing I have good (and, admittedly, patient) friends to chat to and a cool beverage on hand, I honestly couldn’t care less. Online gaming is – to me, at least – less about competition and more about companionship. Having fun.
So these days? These days, I love achievements. I love them because I know I’ve worked my arse off for every single one.
But what do I know, right? We both know I’m shit at video games.
(And, just in case you’re wondering, she’s at PSN Level 7 and her Gamerscore is a measly 19646. See? She told you she sucked.)