Quote of the Past

About achievements in video games:

Achievements aren’t so much player incentive as they are backdoor statistical aggregation. What makes them annoying is because they’re completely superfluous at best and intrusive at worst.

They’re intrusive because the obvious statistic aggregation pops up, ‘hey, you used the jump key!’ forty times in the first couple of hours, as proof to the publisher that, yes, you played the fucking game, and no, you’re not a vegetable.

They’re annoying because the best way to throw you right out of whatever immersion you’re actually getting from a particularly emotional moment in the game is to have a fucking achievement pop up right in the middle of it. “Hey, your good friend just sacrificed himself for the greater cause, 20 points!”

They’re stupid because just going through the list of achievements for a game is a spoiler for just about everything there is to do in that game. Which would you prefer: Discovering some Cool Thing™ on your own or being told that there’s this Cool Thing™ and then having your experience of it ticked off some like some theme park itinerary?

They’re superfluous because if they’re not skinner box shit, they’re things like “find every collectible in the game” and “complete the game on insanity using only your left pinky toe,” where you wouldn’t do them if the game itself wasn’t fun because nobody in the world gives a fuck about your achievements, and if the game was fun you don’t need any extra incentive to play it.Nalano, RPS forums, July 2012

Quote of the Past

The thing that old people don’t understand is – you know if you’ve never heard Bob Dylan, and someone listened to him for 15 minutes, you’re not going to get it. You are just not going to understand. You have to put in hours and hours to start to understand the form, and the same thing is true for gaming. You’re not going to just look at a first-person shooter where you are killing zombies and understand the nuances.

There is this tremendous amount of arrogance and hubris, where somebody can look at something for five minutes and dismiss it. Whether you talk about gaming or 20th century classical music, you can’t do it in five minutes. You can’t listen to The Rite of Spring once and understand what Stravinsky was all about. It seems like you should at least have the grace to say you don’t know, instead of saying that what other people are doing is wrong.

The cliché of the nerdy kid who doesn’t go outside and just plays games is completely untrue. And it’s also true for the nerdy kid who studies comic books and turns into this genius, and it is also true for the nerdy kid who listens to every nerdy thing that Led Zeppelin put out. That kind of obsession in a 16-year-old is not ugly. It’s beautiful. That kind of obsession is going to lead to a sophisticated 30-year-old who has a background in that artform. It just seems so simple, and yet I’m constantly in these big arguments with people on the computer who are talking about, ‘I would never let my kid do this and this in a video game.’ And these are adults who when they were children were dropping acid and going to see the Grateful Dead.Penn Jillette

I think this quote must be 7 years old by now – but it’s still great.