Achievement Unlocked!

Achievement Unlocked!

Above is a link to a flash game called Achievement Unlocked. This is a game where a user can get achievements for mundane tasks like dying 5 times in a row, , jumping 10 times successfully, and dying as soon as you spawn. In short, you can get achievements for ridiculous things. However, since the point of the game is to acquire all the achievements, this game has potentially interesting factors regarding motivation to play such a “pointless” game.

First of all, there is gap theory in discovering achievements serendipitously and unlocking them. The game has no explicit list of achievements and how to unlock them – you simply must know what to do to unlock it. Not knowing what you need to do to successfully beat the game is one source of motivation for players.

Another source of motivation in Achievement Unlocked is attribution theory, where users have extrinsic motivation of fun sounds and crossing out a whole list of 200+ achievements. These achievements typically don’t require too much ability other than a creative “what-if” mindset where users must think of different kinds of actions to do to unlock achievements. One main problem of this game is that the effort one must put into beating the game is enormous given the small reward of a “finished” screen at the end of the game. It gets difficult to try and unlock new achievements since the number necessary to win seems almost insurmountable after the initial novelty of everything you do is an achievement wears off. If one is persistent, they can succeed in the game. Otherwise, most are resigned to an incomplete game.

The main focus of motivation in this game is goal theory – unlock all the achievements and win. It seems simple, but at the same time is very long and tedious. Achievement unlocked also spawned a couple sources of collaborative exploration since its inception in 2008, allowing many users to pitch in difficult to find achievements to fully complete the game. Although some gamer purists regard these sources as cheating, the popular view validating their actions is that you can only cheat another player, not a computer.

I have not personally beat this flash game, but it does provide interesting insights on what makes users want to play it.

Bioshock Infinite and “1999 Mode”

Having first developed the game System Shock 2 in 1999, the game developer Irrational Games is looking to “retro-fit” their newest  installment in the Bioshock franchise by implementing features of their first game.

The full article can be seen at this link.

The 1999 mode in Bioshock Infinite is intended to give more weight to player choices by emphasizing the permanence of which skills the player develops and which upgrades are chosen. Although this game play mechanic may not seem like such a big hurdle to overcome, the scarcity of resources such as ammo and money to buy upgrades forces players to choose a specific path; you cannot become a “jack-of-all-trades”.

Sacrificing the general readiness for a specific skill set, the 1999 mode forces players to conform to a method of play according to the choices they made early in the game. For example, if a player chooses to develop weapons use and upgrade the magnum specifically, it severely affects the ability to improve plasmid powers or even skill with another gun.

Due to the specific nature of the 1999 difficulty, players will often see a “game over” screen if they do not learn the proper way of playing the game that the developers intended for the player-specific path. On top of that? There’s no reverting the difficulty in this mode and the only way to go back is to restart the game under a different difficulty.

I get it. This mode was meant to be hard. But this also raises a couple questions. How can the player know which upgrades to choose that matches their future playing style without trial and error or even the luxury of failure? Have video games begun to coddle us too much? Bioshock Infinite looks like a promising buy if you’re looking for a game that’s willing to kick you while you’re down. And even if you’re not, it’ll be interesting to watch where this notion of “1999” takes us in future games.