As a gamer, I’m not the best. At this moment in time I have 966 trophies to my name. I have not a single platinum trophy. There are trophies on games I will never get because they are online trophies for games that no longer have servers, and others I won’t get because I don’t have the time and there are other trophies I won’t get simply because I’m not good enough to get them. Until a few months ago, I wasn’t bothered about trophies. I don’t venture onto online games very often, usually only going online to sync my trophies, so I have only 5 online “friends,” one of them being my brother-in-law and another being my missus. At the moment, I just about have the most trophies. I’m in the lead by 11. As I say, I wasn’t bothered about trophies until a few months ago, when I realised one of these people had more trophies than me. I’m not normally a competitive person, but seeing this spurred me on. I had to have more. I was going to do this honourably, not by buying an easy game just bump my trophy collection up, but using existing games I should have played more. And I recently achieved my goal. The trick now is to stay ahead of the game.
While eyeing up my next trophy, I noticed something which seemed absolutely stupid. I noticed that while there are obvious differences in getting a gold trophy to getting a bronze one, there can also be massive differences between getting two trophies that are the same colour. Take Just cause 2, for example. One bronze trophy is given for completing the first mission, whereas another one is given for a 75% completion rate of the missions. How can they justify giving identical rewards for two vastly different accomplishments? The same is true of GT5. A bronze trophy is awarded for winning your first race. A bronze trophy is also awarded for owning 1000 cars. Why? It may not be difficult to buy 1000 cars, but surely the loyalty and commitment shown by the player deserves more than a bronze trophy. Or the trophy for the first win should have scrapped. Either way, it doesn’t make sense to award the same coloured trophy for such differing feats. The same will be true for plenty of other games out there.
As I don’t play online very often, I don’t see the point in subscribing to Xbox live. Because of this, I have no “friends” on my Xbox, so I don’t feel the same compulsion to get achievements and Gamerscore points. However, I feel the way that achievements are organised in a much better way. Using Mass Effect as an example, completing the game is worth 100 points whereas getting 150 pistol kills nets you 10 points. Because points are used rather than platinum, gold, silver and bronze, there is a lot more flexibility in what is awarded. It just seems a whole lot fairer that someone should get more points for a harder challenge, but even this seems flawed. After all, someone could potentially play 100 games and get 15 points on each, and still have a higher Gamerscore than someone who has every achievement on one game (unlikely, I know, but still possible).
While I do compare my gamer level to that of my “friends,” I still know that it’s not a true reflection of someone’s skill in a gaming environment. If gamer level was based on a completion average rather than overall score, I probably wouldn’t be top out of the people I know. I could buy Hannah Montana and “platinum” that, which would raise my score quite a bit, but it certainly wouldn’t mean I was a better gamer than the others (and would feel like cheating!). My overall score is only as good as it is because I own a fair few games. While trophies may bring out the competitor in me, it’s definitely not a fair picture of my gaming skill, and if trophies were awarded more fairly, I don’t think my gamer level would be anywhere near it is now. As much as I love getting a new trophy, I can’t help but think that in the end, it’s all completely pointless. I’m no better a player than anyone else, I might just have a bigger game collection, or have been luckier in a game, or played an easier game.
As it is, I’ll keep trying to up my level, keep trying for that elusive platinum trophy, although my eight year old may get his first platinum trophy before me, simply by mastering Lego Harry Potter. He’s not the best gamer, and if he does manage it, it still won’t bring his gamer level above mine, but wouldn’t that be embarrassing for me?