The thing is, a lot of people like checklists. I'm pretty sure this is one of the things that pulls people so deeply into MMOs. There's just this overwhelming amount of stuff to do. There are always "checklists" of things to accomplish, such as mastering crafting tiers, earning sets of gear, grinding levels/stats, and even completing side quests so you can gain some XP and hope those NPCs stop shouting at you. (Sure, I realize there are several other elements that legitimately draw people to MMOs, the social aspect being too important to ignore. Still, the fact that you're given checklists does actually increase the addictiveness of the experience.)
Aside from that, there are situations where Trophies or Achievements actually enhance a game's enjoyability. I mean, personally, I had a lot of fun seeking out the Trophies in Portal 2, which ended up allowing me to see a lot of hidden details I would have completely missed otherwise. And it's hard to deny that the Metal Gear Solid HD Collection has a pretty entertaining Trophy/Achievement list.
But what about games where you get Trophies/Achievements for doing things you would have done anyway just by playing the game normally? Are those necessary? Are they merely carrots used to entice us to keep pushing through a game? I mean, as I mentioned in a previous column, only 20% of players ever actually finish the games they start playing. Is a Trophy/Achievement the motivation some players need?
The weirdest thing, to me, about all this is that the game should just be fun. If you need an arbitrary reward to push you through a game you don't enjoy, why are you playing that game anyway?
My prediction: Trophies and Achievements are here to stay. The fact that Metal Gear Solid 4 added Trophies is evidence that there's enough of a demand for them that it's worthwhile to retroactively add them even to a game that's already four years old. But where does this demand come from? What is it about Trophies and Achievements that makes people pay any attention to them?
I can't answer these questions with any amount of certainty, but I'll definitely be playing some Uncharted 3 and Metal Gear Solid 4 this weekend regardless.
Editor / News Director
Date: August 9, 2012
*The views expressed within this article are solely the opinion of the author and do not express the views held by Cheat Code Central. This week's is also purely a work of fiction*