Oh to hear the satisfying little tone of a new trophy increasing my PSN score by a tiny fraction of a percentage point. To someone who isn't a gamer (and even to some who are), it's very difficult to explain the tenacity and dedication with which many Playstation, Xbox, and Steam gamers pursue these seemingly useless little trinkets. Just to get an idea of how far a gamer will go for these digital rewards, look no further than the 2010 Great IGN Trophy Whore War.
I must confess: I myself am a trophy addict. You see, it all started with Infamous. I really loved the title from Sucker Punch and thought it might be cool to go for the platinum trophy. I wanted to play through a separate time as Evil Cole. I wanted to collect all the power-ups. So, I played the game and searched every inch of Empire City for those little blast shards. Finally, I received this...
Well, I say "received." It really just appeared in my PSN Profile, which I admittedly thought was cool. After that, I honestly didn't think anything else about it. That is...until a fellow gamer and friend commented on the platinum trophy. Then I suddenly realized that he too may pursue the Infamous platinum. Even worse, he may pursue more trophies and pass my level! I couldn't have that. And so began the great trophy war between myself and two of my closest friends.
Currently, we are all hovering around the level 19 mark. It's a never ending competition, not to see who's the best or the most talented, but to see who has the most dedication to push forward for a higher PSN score and the ever elusive platinum trophy. I'm currently 2nd in the trophy race, but my tally of 39 Platinum Trophies has long been the benchmark (at least for us...more on that later).
The way PSN calculates points is quite unique. Bronze, silver, gold and platinum all have different weights depending on your current level. If you're a level 5 and you get three platinums, three days in a row, your level is going to skyrocket fast. For someone like me who sits at level 19, three platinums wouldn't even shift me a single level. My friends and I have each held a significant lead at some point during our trophy war, only to have the other two come storming back to even things up and eventually take the lead. You're never really out of the race.
Thanks to a wonderful little website called PSN Profiles, it's easier than ever to keep track of your trophies. You can see where you rank against other Playstation gamers, pinpoint your very first trophy, and even learn about the rarest trophy in your collection. My profile is featured at the bottom of this page. To the average gamer, a level 19 with nearly 3,000 trophies may seem like a lot. But take a look at PSN Profiles leader board here. I play a ton of video games. I can honestly say I have no idea how someone can have enough time to earn this many trophies. Beta tester? Game developer? Who knows! Even guys who play games for a living, such as IGN's Greg Miller , only come in at a level 22.
To be totally honest, I'm not sure if trophies/achievements are good for gaming or not. I can honestly say I've played some games just because they have easy trophies. Additionally, I have played a few games far more than I would have if they hadn't had obtainable platinum trophies. I enjoyed Assassin's Creed II, but without trophies, I would have stopped the game immediately upon beating the single player story. Then there are games that are so good, it doesn't really matter about the trophies. I platinumed both Mass Effect 2 and Skyrim (over 120 hours!)...but I loved every second of it.
The main downside to trophy hunting is when a gamer misses out on other quality titles. Maybe the trophies are too difficult that they don't even bother playing or maybe the player is too busy spending hours in another game just for one trophy. Recently, I've made an effort to focus on quality instead of quantity. I pursue platinum trophies relentlessly with quality titles like Dishonored and Sly Cooper, rather than Kung Fu Panda or Megamind, which are notoriously easy platinums.
Trophies and achievements may be new, but accomplishing random tasks just for fun have been around since the days of Pac-Man and Mario. Only now, we have a record of completing these inane tasks. What would be really awesome is if Sony and Microsoft would work out a rewards program, similar to Club Nintendo (although it rewards purchases, not in-game achievements). Perhaps an Infamous platinum trophy earns you a poster or maybe a Skyrim platinum nets you $10 PSN store credit? The opportunities are endless for companies to further develop an already loyal fan base.
In a very weird way, I guess the trophies make it all seem worth it. No matter what happens to your saves, hard drives, or if you never pick up another title, your trophies and experiences with each game can never be taken away. Don't have a platinum trophy yet? Give it a shot. You just might become addicted.
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