I am not ashamed to admit that I am an achievement whore. I love the darned things. Not just the Xbox Live achievements, either; PlayStation Trophies, Kongregate badges, medals in games like Emerald City Confidential, our own Escapist badges – I want them all. I’m an avaricious achievement hunter, but it wasn’t videogames that started me on my quest to earn virtual honors. It was the Girl Scouts.
For the most part, I was apathetic toward my time in the Girl Scouts. The camping was pretty fun, and the cookies were certainly tasty, but the rest of the time was pretty dull. One can only make so many “I love my mom!” plates before one begins to feel a bit weary, after all. Girl Scouts had one thing going for it, though: merit badges. Much like achievements, you earned merit badges for completing various tasks, like successfully starting a campfire or testing your home for energy efficiency. I thought they were the coolest thing I’d ever seen. They were so bright and colorful, with different pictures and designs stitched onto their tiny faces. I wanted to earn so many that you wouldn’t be able to tell what color the sash on my Girl Scout uniform was beneath them.
My glorious and awe-inspiring merit badge collection was not to be, however. I simply didn’t enjoy my time with the Scouts enough to hang in there, and quit after just two years. Now, thanks to gaming, I have a new set of merit badges to earn. They might not be quite as pretty, and I can’t actually wear them around the house, but having them feels just as good. Maybe even better. A friend of mine told me that having a lower Gamerscore than I made him feel like “less of a man”; he likely would not have the same envy for the “Koala-T” badge I earned for selling cookies.
Then again, maybe he would. It was a really cute koala.