Editor's Note: Carrot on a Stick

Carrot on a Stick

Are merit badges the gateway drug to achievement-whoredom? In former Girl Scout Susan Arendt's experience, they can be.

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As a longstanding and surprisingly proud Scout, I must agree with you that the "SHINY BADGE" thing is present. Not as much here in Australian scouting (especially in the older groups) but in cubs and for younger scouts, sure. Some groups maintain their devotion to the little things, but others go for a more casual approach.

Just so, here on The Escapist we have people who love badges, hoard badges, hate badges and people who simply ignore them. It all depends on how the individual wishes to have their internet. We're all here for the sake of attention. We post to be read, and read to see what to respond to. Lurkers are another matter entirely, but they're more like the invisible council of judgement.

I was never a boy scout, but I think my achievement whoring started back with having to have every heart piece in Zelda on the NES

I think its true that the need for digital acheivements and trophies is easily transferable to/from real life.

Anything that I can collect, I will.

Remember Pokemon cards/stickers.
I had damn near every one of them.

I'm a collector, and I also love the recognition that comes with collecting.

Someone on my PSN friends list actually offered to buy my account from me for $50 because I have amassed a lot of trophies. Naturally I declined, but it felt good.

Labyrinth:
As a longstanding and surprisingly proud Scout, I must agree with you that the "SHINY BADGE" thing is present. Not as much here in Australian scouting (especially in the older groups) but in cubs and for younger scouts, sure. Some groups maintain their devotion to the little things, but others go for a more casual approach.

Just so, here on The Escapist we have people who love badges, hoard badges, hate badges and people who simply ignore them. It all depends on how the individual wishes to have their internet. We're all here for the sake of attention. We post to be read, and read to see what to respond to. Lurkers are another matter entirely, but they're more like the invisible council of judgement.

You know, they're actually doing away with merit badges here in the US? I was horrified to learn that.

Susan Arendt:
You know, they're actually doing away with merit badges here in the US? I was horrified to learn that.

For the first time in my life.. I feel like a relic of antiquity. It is an odd sensatio-.. HEY! Get those little sods off my campsite!

I have to say I don't share that fascination with "I did X and all I got was this lousy icon" archievements. I'll only take minor detours to get these things and won't bother if it's too much of a hassle. Maybe it was a "trauma" from the original Rayman but I generally consider collecting 100% of anything a task I will not finish. I don't collect all heart pieces, I don't collect all poe souls, I don't collect all stars, etc. I'll bother with lower goals like 75% if there's any reward for that (at least one I care about which usually translates to being useful in the game) but I know that there will always be at least 1-2 left that I will NEVER find so collecting stuff that only gives a reward at 100% is pointless (no, I don't use GameFAQs unless I absolutely cannot progress the main quest). Generally I'll only really bother with things that give me a useful reward like a bonus weapon or something, archievements without rewards get a half-earted effort and if that doesn't work out it gets added to the back of the "stuff to do when I have nothing better to do" queue (which never gets accessed because I ALWAYS have something better to do).

Ah Scouts, I stopped caring when I hit the actual "Boy Scout" level at age 12 and it started feeling more like work than like fun.

However a friend of mine managed to pull off the amazing feat of getting EVERY Merit Badge, making him like a Scout Master or something.

However looking back on the experience... it all feels a little cultish and disturbingly paramilitary. Far too ritualistic with a huge focus on submission to authority, not really suited to a rebel like myself.

KDR_11k:
I have to say I don't share that fascination with "I did X and all I got was this lousy icon" archievements. I'll only take minor detours to get these things and won't bother if it's too much of a hassle....

I second that. Although it it happens that I try really hard if I got 90%+ trophies on a game and am just missing a few. This is even more frustrating with mulitplayer trophies/achievements when you have to play with 2-4 other people.

Thinking of it, I don't really understand why multiplayer trophies are necessary at all when you got a game with a campaign. Multiplayer is competitive anyway, so why not leave them out at all or at least distinguish them from the campaign related ones.

Leaving that little rant aside, I always wonder how other people got the time to get all those trophies with new games coming out every few weeks. Guess I work too much, heh.

I have to admit that I love your articles, Susan; they are incredibly well-written.

I was the scout in scouts who didn't care about badges, camping, or being a responsible citizen. I went to scouts because my parents wanted by in an extracurricular and my best friend was already in scouts. All I did in scouts was sit around and play a watered down version of D&D with my buddies... then got yelled at... then forced myself to do the tie the fucking knot. I dunno, I disabled badges, and I really don't care about achievements very much in gaming. Oh well, we're different people.
Its funny, I never thought about the parallel between merit badges and achievements though, but I guess that's what we all want. We all want to feel like we accomplished something. If anyone has ever watched 'If I...' (which I seriously recommend you do if you're a Demetri Martin fan) that's a great example of a similar situation, the pure desire to achieve.

I don't have anything about them as a concept but I have to say I was disappointed when sony introduced trophies to ps3.
There were a couple of features I liked on the 360 (custom soundtrack, consumer development kit) but an arbitrary points system wasn't one of them.

It's kind of cool with games like PJ Monsters where they added new levels practically with the trophy patch and when the image is amusing but otherwize I can do without them.

What really bothers me though is that it seems to have altered the rewards systems we're used to seeing in games

For example in GTA4, when you do a certain amount of Vigilante missions, all you get is a trophy where in the past you would get better armor. Stealing all the cars had the same letdown: you just get a trophy instead of a stash of respawning cars like in GTAs past.

Shooting the pigeons actually got you an attack chopper and a trophy but the chopper is really crappy and it doesn't even spawn near a safe-house: making it a poor substitute for an arsenal.

So yes on paper they're cool but unfortunately the programmers think they're all the reward we want. I want rewards I can actually use in the game.

I just realized, it's like stepping backwards.
Back when video games started, all you would get for accomplishing goals were (achievement) points. As the games got more sophisticated, they went from points to other rewards (powerups) to be used in a game. Now with achievements and trophies, they're putting less useful rewards and even taking out reward systems from well known franchises (GTA4) to be replaced with arbitrary and relatively worthless points.

I don't have the technical skill or patience to get every achievement in those games that make you win online, and indeed, I no longer have the spare cash to go online with my Xbox 360, so those achievements greatly annoy me. Achievements earnable on my own, however, I absolutely love. I strive to get as many as I can, and for me, it's a great way to squeeze more worth out of a game once I've beaten it several times, found all the hidden weapons, used the weakest weapon to defeat the head bad guy, and whatever else. There always seems to be that one more achievement to try and nab, like Dead Rising's ridiculous "Zombie Genocide" achievement. On top of getting several extra hours of constant slaughtering, the end goal has a real prize - you get one of the best weapons in the game, certainly the best gun.

I was also in girl scouts.. did it for one year... it was quite boring except the cookies and ice skating! I, too, am an achievement whore... it seems that it is connected... of course I am also an avid collector of different things... I wonder if Girl scouts brought that upon me too...

I can easily retrace my steps to the origin of my achievement whoredom. Before being a 360 owner I remember feeling robbed of "the full gaming experience" when not getting every single interrogation sequence in splinter cell on the pc or the same could be said for not hearing every line in a good movie (I remember constantly telling my sis she won't understand movies if she wasn't paying attention to every detail and then playing it back) but as time passed I realized that I was slowly ruining my own gaming (or viewing) experience. Getting every interrogation sequence meant I couldn't really use anything but the grab to get through the game and that didn't mean much variety. The same goes for the 360. I wish I could just enjoy one truly immersive playthrough of a game where I could play the game like it was second nature and then do it again for the achievements but I just don't have the time. So now I find myself walking a tightrope between the more difficult achievements and squeezing as much enjoyment out of the game as "entertainmently" possible

Susan Arendt:

Labyrinth:
As a longstanding and surprisingly proud Scout, I must agree with you that the "SHINY BADGE" thing is present. Not as much here in Australian scouting (especially in the older groups) but in cubs and for younger scouts, sure. Some groups maintain their devotion to the little things, but others go for a more casual approach.

Just so, here on The Escapist we have people who love badges, hoard badges, hate badges and people who simply ignore them. It all depends on how the individual wishes to have their internet. We're all here for the sake of attention. We post to be read, and read to see what to respond to. Lurkers are another matter entirely, but they're more like the invisible council of judgement.

You know, they're actually doing away with merit badges here in the US? I was horrified to learn that.

Wait, seriously? For both Girl and Boy Scouts, or just Girl Scouts? The badges were pretty much the only part I enjoyed.

However, oddly enough, I've never been a major fan of achievements. I'll decide when I've achieved something myself, thank you very much.

Liverandbacon:

Susan Arendt:

Labyrinth:
As a longstanding and surprisingly proud Scout, I must agree with you that the "SHINY BADGE" thing is present. Not as much here in Australian scouting (especially in the older groups) but in cubs and for younger scouts, sure. Some groups maintain their devotion to the little things, but others go for a more casual approach.

Just so, here on The Escapist we have people who love badges, hoard badges, hate badges and people who simply ignore them. It all depends on how the individual wishes to have their internet. We're all here for the sake of attention. We post to be read, and read to see what to respond to. Lurkers are another matter entirely, but they're more like the invisible council of judgement.

You know, they're actually doing away with merit badges here in the US? I was horrified to learn that.

Wait, seriously? For both Girl and Boy Scouts, or just Girl Scouts? The badges were pretty much the only part I enjoyed.

However, oddly enough, I've never been a major fan of achievements. I'll decide when I've achieved something myself, thank you very much.

That I'm not sure. I think I only read about Girl Scouts, but it may be both.

As a member of the Boys Brigade I second that notion. I loved getting those badges.

I love 100% completions.
I do not love achievements.

I love "You found all the hidden packages!"
I do not love "You killed 10,000 people in multiplayer matches."

It's hard to explain, but I like less achievements that take time and skill to attain rather than achievements that take simply time to achieve, or achievements that feel like bookkeeping and stat-building...

I don't mind achievements. They've grown on me, but since 90% of the games I've done a lot in aren't recognized as achievements, and games I obsess over aren't even from this generation, I won't find it to be an accurate representation of myself or my gaming skill or my gaming devotion.

Sylocat:
I have just the game for you...

Loved that game, brilliant :)

Susan Arendt:
Editor's Note: Carrot on a Stick

Are merit badges the gateway drug to achievement-whoredom? In former Girl Scout Susan Arendt's experience, they can be.

Read Full Article

I have to say, that explains the Pony Badge, Susan. You're a woman after my own heart :)

I am also an achievement whore, and proud of it. I've just started a period of retro gaming and I'm obsessing over finding the last box to smash in Crash Bandicoot 2 (99% completion and missing 1 gem, this is really peeing me off now...), and I'm worried that when I come to play the old Pokemon games I really will want to "catch 'em all". Whenever I play a game I try and unlock as much as possible and I love the badge system on Kongregate, so maybe I should be slightly worried about my obsessive personality...

yknow, i always wondered why i had such a incessant desire for Achievements and Trophies and you've finally answered my question for me. I was a boy scout once and i remember that i simply couldn't stop earning badges simply because of that sense of accomplishment you received when you got to put a shiny new badge on your sash. granted that got less exciting when the only badges left were Dog Grooming and Insect Study

I was never a scout,so I wouldn't know,however I belive it's the feeling of a need for every random person you meet to think your great.

why else have these collectibles like trophys and achievements and badges?

I actually do just want to have collectible things,but don't really need recognition from random people for it.

If I really like a game, I'll want to get more of the achievements because I enjoy playing the game, so it hardly feels like work in most cases. I've never gotten all of them for any game, and for most games I get less than half. The only 100% completion I ever got was for Red Dead Redemption (which is just for the single player game and doesn't include any online achievements), so that's about as close as I got. I did most of them on my own, had to check with friends or other online sources to finish off a few hard ones, which I've never felt bad about doing.

 

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