When 0s and 1s were super important, until they weren’t.

Image: Wikipedia

I remember sitting at a Wendy’s once with my friends, we were eating to pass the time before the movie. I only had a PS2, while they had PS3s. The conversation turned to the trophy and achievement system of the PS3 and XBOX respectively. I asked why people chased these things. They said it was mostly for internet bragging rights (the exact term they used was “e-peen”). We all laughed it off.

The next year when I got a PS3, I didn’t laugh, I chased. I chased trophies for the next year or two (what a twist XD).

I remember my first two platinum trophies; they were for Uncharted 2 and Ratchet and Clank: a Clank in Time. I remember completing challenge after challenge, watching the trophy notification pop up and getting a grin on my face when the elusive platinum came.

My friends were impressed with those platinum trophies, as they hadn’t achieved one yet. Spurred on by some twisted sense of pride and achievement, I kept going after platinum trophies in all the games I played. Some were easy, like Ratchet and Clank, while others took time but were wholly feasible, like Mass Effect 2.

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For certain games, I found ways to cheat. For example, Portal 2 requires you to complete the tutorial with a new player…except my friends and I had already completed the game. What do we do? Make new user accounts and play the game using those. We got the platinum trophy, plus one to the collection.

Some games were simply too much of a slog to get 100%. For example, Nier requires you to upgrade every weapon to its maximum level. The issue is the materials drop very rarely from rare enemies; I was looking at 50+ hours of farming materials just for the platinum. I didn’t get the trophy, though I got almost everything else.

I never bought and played “easy platinum games,” I didn’t have the time, money or inclination to “stain” my record with such trophies. I was young, full of pride, arrogant and stupid.

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Icons that are so meaningless in the long-term, but have such an impact on the short-term (for some people at least).
Image: Playstation Lifestyle

As time went on, I found that I stopped caring about platinum trophies as much as I did in the beginning. They were a record of my gaming, but I was getting ashamed of my gaming – a pastime that didn’t relate to my career choice, and still very much a fringe hobby. So I stopped hunting for trophies.

Sometimes though, there’s a game that draws you in so strongly that you just want to keep playing it. There was one game that made me realize these trophies were also memories, recollections of feats I did in-game, and seeing them again made me remember the journey I underwent to get them.

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That game was Drakengard 3.

It was flawed. It was ugly. It was beautiful. It was insane but it made so much sense. The final “boss” is infamous for its difficulty. It took a while, but eventually I got the platinum. When I got it, I felt a sense of ease, that I saw all there was to Drakengard 3, to the story of Zero and her sisters (yes I bought the DLC). Even more perfect was the name of the trophy. While Drakengard 3’s other trophies had generic descriptions, such as “complete route A” or “complete route D”, the platinum had a much more unique name and description. It was named aptly as a concluding part to a song or story. Its description was stuttered, uttering only four words. It was perfect.

Since Drakengard 3, I restarted trying to get trophies – but only ones that could be achieved relatively easily – if it required many multiplayer matches or to do some absurd task, then it was not happening. However, sometimes I couldn’t be bothered to go after them, even if they were easy (e.g. story completion), just because I didn’t care enough for the game to continue playing (hello God Eater 2).

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Someone’s mock up of an achievement system for the Switch. Please, no.
Image: imgur - mock up by chiefsparten

I don’t have a PS4 or a Xbox One. I just have a Switch (and PC). Nintendo doesn’t do the achievement/trophy thing, and I’m glad. I can enjoy games for the fun of them, even if they’re really easy [Kirby].

Sometimes, when the PS3 gets booted up, I look back at my trophy collection and remember the moments they popped. They were fun to collect, but their presence lacks much of their original meaning…except for one.

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Coda.

I.

Hear.

A.

Sound.

Do you have a favorite trophy/achievement? What’s the story behind it? Did you use to trophy/achievement hunt or was that never your thing?