Monday, 29 March 2010

Well done - have a cookie

Despite having owned Modern Warfare 2 since the drunken, hazy memory of Christmas, I have only just started dipping my toes into the sludge pit of its delightful online gaming scene. Just up to rank 11, I have been yelled at for being a ‘no0000ob’, been killed by air strikes and have found a new kind of hatred for harrier jets, but there’s one thing this game seems to love rubbing in my face. How totally and completely wicked awesome I am at it.

Especially when starting out, I found it very hard to do anything without some kind of rock guitar anthem accompanying an achievement graphic on screen telling me I’ve killed several people with a gun, jogged around a sufficient distance in game or managed to survive something.

I know the same thing happened in the first Modern Warfare, but it seems the sequel has even more of this ‘pat on the back’ mentality for doing anything. Are gamers really such a precious bunch that they need constant reassurance that they can be good at things? Are Activision trying to train us like dogs, giving us a biscuit when we do good?

Apparently they aren’t doing it very well because you can also be rewarded for clumsiness, such as when you fall off a particularly high building by accident and nearly perish, before getting a reward for being a base jumper (rather than a dopey tit).

Getting achievements is one thing, but making such a dramatic event out of every single one, especially when there are exactly 70 billion (citation needed) of the damn things just seems a bit excessive. Do gamers really need this level of emotional support to keep them engaged? I’ve yet to play a match where I haven’t had a guitar blare at me for doing something which appeared simple, but according to the game required recognition.

If you’re going to include it in a game, at least make these so called achievements actually something that you need to strive to achieve. Running one mile with a perk that lets you run forever is surely just a consequence of playing the game, rather than something that you should be proud of.

Is this all spawning from the whole Gamertag, achievement whoring mentality that the world seems to have adopted? Surely the best way to show someone you are good at a game is to play with them, competitively or co-operatively in a fun gaming session, rather than comparing cold hard statistics to determine who the master is.

Achievements in most games don’t bother me that much really, but the amount of things that Modern Warfare 2 seems to congratulate me for just cheapens the whole experience in my opinion. I don’t feel the need to be given a guitar riff of appreciation every five minutes. It’s starting to do my head in deeper than the underground parking structures in hell.


Unknown said...

Really enjoyed this observation, Anthony. I have had huge trouble with the idea of rewards in Heavy Rain, but I'll spare your blog from my furhter rantage!

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