I'm sure most of you know by now that MS has filed a patent for achievements for watching TV shows.
This isn't anything entirely new. GetGlue does the same thing if you watch something online, and they even spread the news across your Facebook friends. :roll: But having an achievement unlocked for watching a show you genuinely want to watch isn't a bad thing. The problem with achievements is they coax some people into spending time on something they don't really have an interest doing.
In 2005, I remember the first achievement I unlocked. It was for Peter Jackson's King Kong: The Official Game of the Movie. I finished the first level and the iconic little blip appeared on my screen. I just received my first 100 points to my gamescore, or as some affectionally refer to as e-penis. Kong was also the first game that I achieved 1000/1000 on. Is that really an achievement, though? Anyone who plays through the entire game can do just what I did.
The following year, the PS3 released and I bought one. As the years went by, I found myself buying the majority of multiplats on the 360. It wasn't because of the 360 being the best in graphics or performance or playing online, or even the preference of the controller. What got me buying multiplats on 360 more was the actual achievements. I became addicted to them and had to play the 360 versions to increase my gamerscore. Meanwhile, the PS3 got ignored. Even great PS3 exclusives weren't enough to entice me to play the machine again because "I can't get achievements for playing them."
Addictions are problems. I'm not saying everyone who plays for achievements are addicts, but I know some are. I know one person who was the first in my group of online friends to achieve 100,000. Wanna know how he did it? He played bad licensed games. He played kids games. He played Barbie. He bought XBLA games he didn't even like because "they were a quick 200." He spent time on xbox360achievements.com to research his next quickest path to gamerscore domination. Did he enjoy getting there? I'm sure he did, so where exactly is the problem?
The problem is that's not what achievements are meant for. They were meant for rewarding you for things you wanted to do, and to entice you to try something you normally wouldn't - within reason. Having to play a bad game, having to play a kid's game, having to play a Barbie game to increase your gamescore should not be encouraged. You should be playing games you WANT to play and games that you LIKE. You also shouldn't be driven mad trying to unlock some stupidly hard challenge for 10 GS or spending two hours killing people with the same gun for 15 GS. I've even heard people paying other people to play games for them under their profile just so their gamerscore could continue to grow when they themselves weren't playing. Is a gamescore really worth that much to some people? Apparently so.
I will admit, I'm guilty of this. Although I never had it as bad as needing to play a Barbie game, I did play games I had no interest in for quick "chievos". Hell, I even got the Burger King games because they had achievements. I also spent far too much time on certain games trying to get all 1000 out of 1000. Whenever I get a Lego game on the 360, I feel compelled to get every single achievement, and I can't seem to convince myself that it's not worth doing. It's not enhancing the gaming experience, more as it's just wasting time that I should be spending playing one of the over 200 other games I've yet to play.
Granted, one could make the argument that the achievement system was designed to lengthen the life of your game. If you just sped through a great game in five hours, you're most likely not going to spend anymore time on it. But, if you get an achievement for finishing the game on Hard, that's another five hours. You might be encouraged to play with your friends online for some more achievements, or explore levels that you would normally pass over. In the case of bad games, though, you don't want to spend anymore time on a game you don't like. It's like ordering a disgusting sandwich. Do you keep eating the sandwich just because it's there? Do you get an achievement for keeping it down when finished, or should you just have the sense to put the thing that's making you sick down?
Another problem with this kind of achievement hunting is that it doesn't reflect accurately what kind of gamer you are. When you compare gamer profiles side by side, you see the games they've played and the achievements they've unlocked. You get a general sense of what they like to play and just how much they like to play it. When used correctly, the system is brilliant, but what do you think of someone who just plays kids games for the easy points? Doesn't that strike you as a waste? Shouldn't you wish that gamer spent his time better? Well, it is his time after all, but then don't you wonder if he really enjoyed himself, or that he could enjoy himself better had he been playing games he truly was interested in?
So this brings me back to the TV "chievos". Now granted, the idea of physical rewards is always nice. If you're going to get something that you can actually use, that's more than just a boost to your gamescore. You might actually be encouraged enough to make a point to watch something. Now, if these are just going to be simple point boosts, then I begin to wonder just how many people will continue to watch a TV series they don't like just so they could get the achievement for it.
Aren't there other TV shows out there more deserving of your time? Aren't there other games out there more deserving of your time? Wouldn't the real achievement lie in knowing you truly enjoyed what you experienced? Too bad there isn't a real achievement for that.