The Needles

The Needles
A Dirty Little Secret

Andy Chalk | 16 Dec 2008 21:00
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But an hour later, I still had no Achievements. I grew angry. How dare this console rabble treat me like this? This was probably some twisted scheme by Microsoft to push PC gamers toward the Xbox, but I wasn't falling for it! I began scouring forums in search of a solution. I copied my local saved games into my Live account folder. I contacted a few friends I knew who moved in lower social circles.

All for naught.

Several hours later, I resigned myself to the fact that if I wanted those Achievements, I'd have to replay the game. I was disappointed, and surprised by my disappointment. It suddenly dawned on me that I did want those Achievements. I'd invested a lot of time in the game, I'd earned those markers of accomplishment and I resented the fact that they were being denied to me. Microsoft had set a cunning trap, and like a fool - like a console gamer! - I had stumbled blindly into it.

Except it wasn't really their trap. With Achievements, Microsoft has figured out how to tap into the very basic and normal human desire for recognition, but they're far from the first to do it. 25 years ago and more, in the heyday of video arcades, countless hyper-reflexive teenagers spent their evenings in dingy, smoke-filled rooms blowing untold dollars for little more than a chance to enter their initials into a machine's high score list. I myself pumped quarters by the pound into games like Time Pilot and Bosconian in a ceaseless battle for supremacy with my fellow coin-op warriors.

I can still remember the thrill I felt the first time I achieved a high score of my own, on Astro Fighter if I recall correctly. I was elated to finally join the ranks of the gaming elite; I was no longer just some nameless kid with a few quarters, I was a High Score Immortal. It was a fantastic feeling that stayed with me for days, fortunately longer than the crushing disappointment that accompanied the realization that the scores reset every time the machines were turned off.

But where does that leave me now? My worldview has experienced a fundamental shift. My first contact with Live started out a bit rough but smoothed out quickly, and Achievements, once such an easy target for abuse, have suddenly become desirable. I want more of them. I want more games to include them. I want to show them off to my friends. This is terrible. God help me, I've become an Achievement whore.

I'm still a hardcore PC gamer. But now I carry with me a dirty secret, a foul stench of shame that follows me wherever I go. I hate Microsoft for doing this to me. I hate consoles.

But I loves me my Achievements.

Andy Chalk has every intention of cheating to get all those Achievements he missed.

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