Chasing Platinums

by Eric Carasella 17 days ago in console

Why trophies matter...or not

Chasing Platinums

I've been an avid gamer for the better part of thirty years. Sometimes to the detriment of my own productivity. Another story for another day, perhaps, but truth nonetheless.

With the launch of the XBox 360 in November of 2005, Microsoft introduced the idea of achievements. A system of points that would pop for specific accomplishments in games. You may finish a level, or find all of the treasures within a region, or even kill enemies in very specific ways. It suddenly made doing things in games seem more important. It became the dangling carrot on an otherwise normal gaming activity. I suddenly wanted to pursue activities that I would normally forego to finish a game. I spent more time with these games, even if I wasn't necessarily having any fun. That's odd, right?

Fast forward to July 2, 2008. Sony finally introduces Trophies to their games. While similar in attainment to the achievement system found on the XBox, trophies gave us something a little extra. They put in a platinum trophy for getting all other trophies within a game. Now I wasn't just chasing points, I was chasing all the points. I wanted to finish every game and see that glorious accomplishment show up in my profile next to my name.

The trophies and achievements on both systems serve absolutely no purpose. They are cosmetic at best and a waste of time at their worst. But I still chase them. I wish I could describe the feeling you get when that little noise pops on a game after the platinum trophy is attained. It's joyful and sad at the same time. I've just wasted dozens of hours on a game that I enjoyed, but may have finished- storywise- hours ago. I just kept chaisng the carrot.

Nintendo is behind in almost all resepcts when it comes to following the lead of Sony and Microsoft. They were years late to the online party and have no dedicated reward system in place across all of their games. They still produce some of the best first-party games on the planet, but they march to their own drummer.

Take a title like Breath of the Wild- arguably the best game to come out in the past decade- a game with so much content that you could genuinely find new things to explore after a 100 hours of gaming. It's that big, and that good, and it exists in a place where there are no accomplishments outside of your own satisfaction.

One of the missions in the game has you finding Korok seeds. They belong to a fellow named Hestu who enjoys expanding your inventory and playing maracas (don't ask). There are 900 of these seeds. 900! And they are hidden across the vast kingdom of Hyrule. Finding 441 of them nets you the final inventory expansion for your weapons. You do not need to find anything after that 441st seed. And Nintendo decided to drive this point home by rewarding players who did find all of them with a (SPOILERS!) piece of golden poop.

You can't make this stuff up. Not a single trophy in sight, just the knowledge that you found all of those seeds to only get digital shit for it. Is it possible that the clever folks at Nintendo wanted us to ackowledge something deeper?

It's the journey, not the destination, right? I believe that. I believe it so much that I am currently chasing my 16th platinum trophy on my PS4 for a game I've finished two times on my XBox One. I understand my hypocrisy and contradiction. I'm a flawed human. Blah blah blah.

Now if you'll excuse me, I have to bring a tamed lion to a crocodile in Assasins Creed Origins to get a trophy to pop.

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Eric Carasella
Eric Carasella
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