Immersion vs. Achievements


According to Bartle’s character theory the basic types of players divide into Achievers, Explorers, Socializers and Killers. I consider myself as the first two. I usually prefer single player games and act pretty wary towards strangers in multiplayers. I do socialize with my small circle eventually but I’m not really interested in actual socializing as much as I just like some people and feel like playing with them occasionally. Then it’s rather rare for me to feel the competitive need for PvP or going around murdering everything.

But I feel that these four categories really leave out one of the most interesting aspect of games, the escapism, the immersion to a different world, experiencing. The Explorer comes closest to this but it’s not exactly the same thing as it seems that Explorers are described to be completionists like Achievers, just in a different way.

And why am I writing about any of this? Mainly because I suck. I start a game being ready to be immersed, seeking the intellectual, emotional and artistic thrill. This is my aim, just to feel the game. Being so immersed that I don’t really even realize it’s not a real world. At the most I’d pop out of it for a second to think about how awesome everything is and hoping it could go on forever. But then at some point I notice that I fell back into being an achievement whore again. At the very least I will mentally cross the game off from my to-be-played list but in reality that doesn’t even come close to all of the small things that I feel a need to do, even though originally I just wanted to have a great ride.

Is it really achievements versus immersion? It seems to be, at least for me. I’m one of those people that would be better off if no achievements were ever implemented at all. I’m not crazy enough to go through every single thing of the every single game I play. I wont read a 500 page guide and I don’t need to defeat every  mob in the game. But when there’s achievements, they are constantly begging me to finish them. They just scream “do me, do me” and it is not a sexy scream.

IRL teachers and guidance counselors and people like that even tell the students how we should make a list of our unfinished assignments and then cross them off one by one. It does not help. I just feel the stress stronger. If there’s no list I can at least occasionally pretend that those stupid assignments don’t even exist and find a moment to breath normally.

This is why I stopped making actual to-be-played lists. Because I suck. Why do I sabotage my own enjoyment with silly things like achievements and trophies? I don’t really understand how it makes me a better person to have one of the rarest achievements in World of Warcraft.

Most of the time I don’t even care about being a good player, though it’s not unheard of to feel pride from one’s skills. I’m clearly better than the average player in WoW but that’s not exactly a hard thing to beat. Being at least decent matters in a multiplayer game because by being bad one can drag other people down. That’s why I try a bit more in multiplayers while I can result to the easy setting in single player games without any shame (though usually I start out with normal and most of the time don’t feel the need to adjust it to either direction). But anyway, having a legendary staff from 5 Xpacks and 40 levels ago doesn’t really make me a better player either.

I would like to be more of an Explorer and definitely more of a feeler while playing. I’d want to focus on the lore and enjoying the story and the world. In Finnish we even have a great word for it ‘elämys’, which translates to ‘an emotional or exciting experience’. And we talk about this as a play style. My daughter definitely has nailed it. When she plays WoW, she constantly starts a new character “because this one is pretty” and she hides in bushes because it’s fun. She collects flowers and pets and flies around.

I’m sure some people look at her playing and think she’s insane but I’ve often thought about wanting a singleplayer RPG with a large world, rich lore and a great control scheme like WoW has. Then I wouldn’t be bothered about “performing” in front of others or playing at certain times, being afraid of constant buffs and nerfs and other balancing issues. I could try out this awesome tactic of doing whatever I feel like doing. And then, if I could just turn off the achievements…

One response to “Immersion vs. Achievements

  1. Pingback: Achieving The Irrelevant | Lux Atarnia

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