Hi, My Name is Sebastian and I am a Recovering Trophy Addict.Platforms: All
This is a very personal story for me to tell. It details the pitfalls that some players may fall into with the trophy system or any achievement system for that matter and the mistakes I made doing so. I know people are in the same boat I was and hopefully, this little tale will help people in some way. I really hope some people enjoy reading it as much as I enjoyed writing it.
This story all started about ten years ago when I first got my PlayStation 3. I was late to the PS3 era due to various reasons but I don't think I was ready for what was about to unfold. I am a completionist at heart and when I enjoy a game and I mean really enjoy a game, I leave no stone unturned. Even going all the way back to my NES, my Atari 2600 and even earlier gaming systems than that, I enjoyed the challenge of finding everything there is to do and that is one thing I like about gaming, I do like to be challenged.
When I discovered the trophy system, I was initially very happy and I really enjoyed what it offered me as a player. When I had finished the game, if I chose to do so, I had additional things to try and achieve, extra tasks to do and new things to see. That's how trophies should work, they should be optional extras to do if you are not finished with your time in the game's world. They should never, ever be your driving force when playing a game and that's a nasty rabbit hole I, perversely fell into.
Unfortunately, I got sucked into a world where my enjoyment quickly got replaced by trophy hunting and platinum trophy chasing. As I saw people tweeting about their latest platinum trophies and as I saw myself rising up the ranks on PSNProfiles, I became quite obsessed with it all. It was no longer a way to elongate my game time in a world I loved, it was a game of how many achievements can I get and how fast I could get them. I wanted to fly up that virtual trophy leaderboard and I was not bothered about what I was playing to get there.
Realizing I had An Issue
It got really bad at this point, I was missing out on games that I deemed the platinum to be unachievable and I was buying games that were cheap and easy to complete. I was still playing the 'BIG' games, but I was playing games differently, checking guides, reading trophy walkthroughs and playing games in the most efficient way I could with a trophy hunting mindset. This was very different from how I was playing originally, when all this started, with trophies now being the driving force of me playing and not just additional, optional tasks to complete.
It does not help at all that there are some companies out there, who I will not mention in this feature, that play on trophy hunting and feed the addiction. They create easy to complete and cheap games that offer quick platinum trophies and offer artificial ways to bolster your virtual trophy cabinet. They offer cross-buy titles too, so you get two trophy sets for the price of one. These games are not games people really want to play, people buy them to get the easy trophies, plain and simple.
At this point, I was flying up the trophy leaderboard and even broke into the top 130 players in the UK but it was a burden. I quickly started to burn out, not enjoy what I was doing and my beloved past time became a chore. It all came to a head when I got eight platinum trophies in one day, playing these little, cross-buy easy platinum games mentioned in the paragraph above. I felt hollow and I decided enough was enough, I truly wanted to return to how I was when this all started. I wanted to have fun again and it was going to be hard to change my mindset but as I said earlier, I do like a challenge.
Fixing The Issue
After I realized that I had an issue I needed to start thinking about games as games. Looking at games like I used to and not as vehicles to increase my trophy count. The first thing I did was ban myself from buying these cheap easy games. I did not enjoy them, well tell a lie, there were a few I liked but on the whole, they were cheap throw-away crap. I also told myself I was missing out on some great experiences by deeming the trophy lists they offered unachievable, so I also put an end to skipping those games too.
I will tell you the two things that really helped in my recovery. The Nintendo Switch and starting to write for video game websites. The Nintendo Switch, which does not have an achievement system, slowly changed my playstyle back to what it was like originally. While I loved completing Zelda and I even got every moon in Mario Odyssey, I was not driven by an obligatory list of achievements I felt I had to get and it felt good. I played games how I wanted to again and if I felt the need, I did everything it had to offer but I never ever felt obliged to do so.
Writing gaming articles online, which included lots of game reviews quickly showed me that I could not get every trophy I had access to. I just did not have the time anymore. My trophy list stated to get filled with games that were not 100% completed, games that I did not have all the trophies for and you know what? No one died, no one cared and at this point, I started to feel better about gaming again. I started to play for fun like I used to and not bother too much about my trophy count.
Out The Other Side
Don't get me wrong, I still love getting trophies but my thought process and the way I play has reverted back to how I was at the start of this article. If you are in the right mind-set, trophies are a good thing, they give you more for your money when playing a game and give you more things to do if you choose. However, you need to make sure that you are not playing purely for that reason and they are not changing your habits and diminishing your love for the medium. Your time is precious and when you can, spend it playing games you love and not cheap trophy cash-ins you really don't want to play.
I now play a game like I used to. To enjoy it, I no longer buy small easy games, I no longer skip games I will never get the platinum on and the trophy chase is not eating away at me anymore. I will still get platinum trophies, in fact, I got the platinum for Paper Beast yesterday and I loved the experience. The difference was, it was on my terms, in a game I loved and when I wanted to get it. I do not feel the need to be chasing easy wins and do not feel bad if I leave a game unfinished with trophies still remaining. As long as I am enjoying it, that is all that matters.
I am glad my gaming habits have returned to normal, but it was not easy. I am in love with gaming again and I hope this personal journey will help others in the same situation. I know other people are out there that are still stuck in this trophy hunting rut and if they are happy, then that is fine. It does not bother me what other people do with their time. Otherwise, I hope they can take heed in my journey and if they are feeling burned out and are willing to change, they can also enjoy gaming again. It is, after all, an amazing hobby of ours.