Play With My Box

Sunday, January 21, 2007

Your Gamerscore and You - Part Uno

My gamerscore is sitting pretty at 1200 points roughly one month after buying my Xbox 360. The whole idea of achievements and points seemed rather trivial even during that week I was weighing the pros and cons of grabbing a 360. It was a superficial premise, to rewarding players for doing something they would do anyway, which is to play their games. I perhaps thought that there would be material motivation for raising your gamerscore: special offers, discounts on new games, free downloads in the Marketplace or something tangible for gaining achievements.

I quickly realized there was no system in place to "cash in" points from you gamerscore. Aww poo, then what good is it? As a gamer I could understand the inherent joy of racking up a lot of points and comparing yourself alongside other hardcore gamers. Even that mode of enjoyment, however, is deeply flawed. There is theoretically no limit to your gamerscore. It does not reflect with much accuracy your overall skill or dedication as a 360 gamer, as it is an amalgamation of all the games you have ever played and how much progress you have actually made in each game.

So I concluded, rather prematurely, that the whole notion of achievements and points was a gimmick. It still wasn't a potent enough reason to not buy a 360. Once I had plugged in my new game console at home, it was only the games that I cared for. Live was still but a glimmer in my gamer's eye. It sounded like a slick online matchmaking system, but nothing more. I knew I would get around to it eventually, but I was in no rush.

How things change. Four and a half weeks later I cannot even imagine using my 360 without Live and I always have my eye trained on my gamerscore. It crawls higher, ever so slowly, but I'm watching it. My eyes brightern every time I hear that telltale "BLIP" during gameplay and the "Achievement Unlocked" icon flashes onto my screen. The questions begin rolling in: I wonder which achievement that was? How was is it worth? How many more do I need to unlock to get them all?

For all their superficiality, the achievements system taps into a very pure desire of all gamers, if not all people and does it with remarkable simplicity. In my next post, I'll also get into how it ties into a more practical side of the overall Xbox Live experience.

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