Editor’s note: I understand where Tony is coming from all too well. The hook of virtual points — be it achievements or trophies — is strong. Not only do they add layers of gameplay if done well, they also serve as a virtual checklist for games I’ve completed. Does the Wii need them? Of course, not. But it sure wouldn’t hurt. -Greg
Goals, productivity, tangible entertainment; this is the mix I shoot for in my everyday tasks. So when I embarked back into the world of gaming culture a few years back, it should come as no surprise that I happily embraced the new trend of games doling out rewards in the form of achievements and trophies.
"Wow, I can play videogames and still feel a sense of purpose through my gaming experiences," I thought.
My plunge back into gaming started with the Xbox 360 and PlayStation 2, and eventually led to the PS3. I found that the intensity that I attack everything else with spread into gaming as well. But within this new world of gaming I noticed it was mainly that one feature — namely unlockable achievements and trophies — that engrossed me from the first "achievement unlocked" ping that popped up onto my screen. By contrast, it's been some years since I first waggled the white Wii controller furiously into the air, and the urge to do so is rare, simply because it lacks this new addiction.
On the Xbox 360 and PS3, games I had completed and put into the dust bin now have a second life. If I'm short on cash, I can open up the achievement list on games I already own and hunt for those missed points or trophies.
I've heard plenty of gamers complain about these added perk points, saying they change the "fun factor" of going through games. Instead of focusing on just the gameplay itself, players are searching and looking in every crevice for those missing points.
I understand that argument. Sure, proceeding through a game only thinking of the character's progression or the story itself is noble. But adding a dual experience in the form of these points adds an even more friendly competitive nature to many games that are, to put it bluntly, too short. How many times have you played through a campaign and reached the final boss on the first night you popped that sucker into the tray?
I now have all the current consoles under my 50-inch LCD TV, all of which I couldn't afford to buy. But I did. I bought them because I want my gaming experience to be as full as possible. And why not? Games take up a majority of my free time. I spend hours upon hours in my Ikea Poӓng chair, curled up next to these consoles, television, and laptop.
There is a notable exception though. In this room of points and trophies sits an elephant: my lonely Wii. My adorable glowing Wii awaits me nightly, wanting the respect it so deserves. I stare back with empathy — empathy for the console that helped my inner-child gamer unite with my adult one. A console that has made more money than I care to even look up at this point. A console that lacks that one missing ingredient that Microsoft and (eventually) Sony added into their consoles years ago: achievements.
The Wii lacks that one addictive ingredient that helps gamers pop previously completed games back in. Those points don't make or break a console, mind you. And I'm not saying the Wii is a terrible way to spend your hours at night when the rest of the house is asleep. It's just that when considering going back to a game I've finished or starting one I haven't played yet, I usually look right past the Wii. I'd rather get some points, longing for that ping of pleasure for a task well done. It's the pat on the back that brings that small feeling of productivity to the forefront of the experience.
I do value my Wii. Super Mario Galaxy 2, Metroid: Other M, and Zelda: Skyward Sword have been or will be played. But imagine if I were given points or trophies for getting all those stars in Galaxy? I'd dust off that cute li'l guy off and take him out for a few beers like we used to years ago before I knew something better was out there.
I once thought my first girlfriend was my soul mate, until I realized I had the option to look further into the dating pool. This expanded pool offered me not only tangibility, but also didn't vomit on me after three wine coolers. It's a pool that offered me points for bringing her flowers. Points that, to be honest, feel a little better than a gamerscore, but still….
This article originally appeared on Kombo.com.