Achievement Races: How the Validation Model Has Changed Gaming

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Something has quietly occurred over this soon-to-pass gaming generation, something that has never been seen before in the previous five or so eras of our favorite past time.

For some reason people are continuing to sink hour after hour into games that they’ve already beaten. What is this strange phenomena that has allowed for the kind of replay value that developers from previous generations would have killed for?

Achievements.

Somewhere in the annals of Microsoft, during the early development days of the Xbox 360, some engineer-in-training came up with the idea to take all of the gaming accomplishments we’ve amassed over the thousands of hours we’ve applied to this hobby, and systematically make them available to anyone who would care to look.

In hindsight it seems obvious, but like any revolutionary idea, the Achievement model that Microsoft introduced in 2005 changed the way that 30 years of gamers would play forever more.

Suddenly word-of-mouth was not required to show off the tremendous tasks one had undertaken. Each journey we had made, every enemy we had toppled, any impossible obstacle we had somehow overcome was now a matter of public record.

Within scarcely two years, even Microsoft’s long-time rival Sony would adopt the idea, implementing it into every game they’ve signed off on since. These days even Steam and iOS titles have achievements programmed into the most basic of titles.

And why not? It’s a win-win of the most basic and obvious variety. Hardcore gamers get more game play out of their hard-earned dollars, casual gamers get a pat on the back just for playing through the game, and developers finally get an audience that is willing to appreciate every aspect of their work in the form of 100% Achievements and Platinum Trophies.

No longer can a player simply say that he’s accomplished everything a game has to offer, now they have to prove it…and if they have, they can.

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