The Xbox 360 turned 10 years old last Sunday, November 22. That means it's now the average age of all the little kids cussing you out on Xbox Live. Adorable.
But the Xbox 360 literally changed the game when it introduced Achievements. It made the ultimate metagame out of an activity that is already called "video games." Because Microsoft led that charge, Sony realized it had to introduce a Trophy system as well. Even Steam eventually came around with Steam Achievements.
Whether you love or hate Achievements, if you're a gamer, you've had to confront the question of Achievements in your hobby. You've had to decide if they're a driving force in your gaming, or an eye-rolling nuisance. You get a dopamine drip when you hear that telltale 'blip,' or you don't even know they exist anymore because you've shut off those notifications.
But we're curious: What was your first Achievement?
Sean Cahill, Staff Writer, @seancahill24
I thought my first Achievement would be more memorable, but upon pulling up my list, this is what I found:
Chapter 1 Bronze Bird Award
You found a dead bird in the Weisman Office Building
Condemned: Criminal Origins
I cannot, for the life of me, even remember playing this game. It is not in my stack of games, nor is it downloaded. I only played through the first chapter, according to my achievement list, so I have to imagine that I didn't enjoy this game and opted to trade it in. A sad entry in this list.
Nathan Carter, Staff Writer, @natedoggcata
I can't remember if it was the first one, but I do remember that the first game I bought for the Xbox 360 when I got one was Call of Duty 2. Apparently, I only have three Achievements unlocked for it, the first being "Complete basic training," so I guess you could say that was the game that started it all for me. I am not the kind of person that has to get every single Achievement for every game I play but I do love them. If a game is fun enough, I will try to get some of the easier ones available, and it's really fun to go back and see exactly what Achievements I got for games I played in the past. Here we are in 2015 and I am sitting on a 42,331 score. Not amazing by any stretch, but it's a score that I am proud of.
Sean Colleli, Staff Writer, @scolleli
To be honest, I don't really remember, but it was probably something meaningless from the equally bland and tedious Perfect Dark Zero—regrettably the first game I got for the 360. God, what a painful waste of a game, especially after the awesome N64 original.
Regardless of what my first Achievement was, I uniformly fall into the "eye-rolling nuisance" camp. Steam Achievements can actually be a little funny and ironic, because I'm convinced that Valve employs actual human beings with a sense of humor. That said, I recall Shigeru Miyamoto once saying that Achievements are superfluous and redundant, and, at worst, a distraction. Who am I to argue with the master?
When you find something cool and hidden in a Zelda or Metroid game, that should be a fun little personal moment for you. Maybe it's something the developers forgot about or didn't even think was significant, like the cheese wedges hidden in every level of the original Perfect Dark. You don't need that obnoxious bleeping sound and notification to pop up and tell you so; it's coldly artificial and cuts down on the nascent discovery aspect of video games. It turns the organic process of exploration into a patronizing, "You found a secret! Here's a cookie!" moment that robs it of personal meaning. It takes the mildly subversive nature of Easter eggs and makes them a publisher-mandated feature.
The fact that Achievement points and Trophies are patently worthless adds insult to injury. If you could exchange them for DLC or something, that would be awesome, but there's no way in hell any publisher or developer would cut off that revenue stream. My Gamerscore remains a meaningless number, and a somewhat embarrassing one at that. Personally, I'd like Nintendo to adapt its "sticker" system to all of its games and use them as the Nintendo answer to Achievements. As least you can send goofy messages with the stickers. As they are, Xbox Achievements are just hollow bragging rights for insecure kids.
Chapel Collins, Staff Writer, @ChapelCollins
I had my Xbox 360 for a little over a year before I connected it to Xbox Live, so I'm not entirely sure what my first-ever Achievement was, or really even what the first game I played was. My first online Achievement, however, was the Assassin achievement for Ghost Recon Advanced Warfighter, unlocked on June 7, 2008. A fitting first, as it's a completely pointless "Kill someone in multiplayer that already has the achievment," meaning that it probably marked my overall first blood in online multiplayer.
As far as loving or hating Achievements, I am a radical Achievement hound. They are probably the reason I stuck with Xbox during the last generation, and definitely the reason I went with the Xbox One over the PS4 this time. I honestly don't know what it is about them, but it totally consumes the way I play most games. I guess it's just my inner completionist that's excited to get a tallied-up report on what I've done in a game. I remember playing SOCOM Combined Assault on the PS2, which had a badge system that was essentially just an Achievement list: kill 100 enemies with a knife, complete every instant action level, use smoke grenades 50 times, etc. It was my favorite part of that game, and maybe it was what got me hooked on the idea of meaningless rewards for menial tasks. And now, 10 years and 114,000 Gamerscore later, here I am writing about it.
Randy Kalista, Staff Writer, firstname.lastname@example.org
I've never stood in line for a console launch. In fact, I didn't get an Xbox 360 until 2007, a year-and-a-half afterwards. I suppose my original Xbox and then-hot PC suited me just fine. But the first time I saw an Achievement badge blip onto my TV screen was during The Darkness. The main character, Jackie Estacado, had those nasty tentacles with eyes and mouths flanking the left and right side of the screen. Those Darklings, as they were called, would wreck shop. My first Achievement was a five-pointer called "Up Close and Personal" for "performing an execution move for the first time."
Today, the thing I remember about that game — the thing everyone remembers — is getting to Netflix and chill with Jackie's girlfriend on the couch. That's the "up close and personal" I remember from The Darkness. But Jackie's Darklings obviously tore some gangster to pieces, which set me up on a lifelong path of apathy when it comes to Achievements. I'm happy for people that get excited about Achievements. But I keep them as invisible as possible so as not to interrupt the self-perceived "purity" of my gaming experience.
Dan Keener, Sr. A/V Writer, email@example.com
My first-ever Achievement was on December 1, 2005. It was from Kameo, the "Found Pummel Weed" Achievement. Bonus Achievement on same day (number two), was from Hexic HD and was the "Cluster Buster" Achievement.
I personally like Achievements and Trophies. As we pass the tenth year of their existence, my perspective has shifted. Originally, I wanted to be one of those people that played to chase the Achievements. But as the games grew many, and the Achievements and Trophies sometimes grew dumber, I stopped worrying about them. As a result of my lack of caring, I actually enjoy them now when I get one without even knowing what it was I accomplished. It makes me pause to see what it was, allowing me to savor it a bit more.
Rob Larkin, Staff Writer, @Rob_GN
I don't know what my first Xbox 360 Achievement was, though it would pre-date my first PlayStation Trophy. However, I had a bit of a falling out with Microsoft over some monies charged against my wishes that ended up costing me over $100. When the Microsoft service desk refused to refund the $45 I felt I was owed, I traded in my 360 the next day for a PS3—and haven't given Microsoft a dime in the seven years since.
My first PlayStation Trophy was Marksman for the original Dead Space, which pinged on October 18, 2008, and noted that I had dismembered my first 20 necromorph limbs. My first platinum would also be for Dead Space, on November 4, two weeks later.
Regardless of my bad experience which drove me from Microsoft into Sony's arms, I feel very positively towards Trophies, but am kinda meh on Achievements. And that is purely because of Platinum Trophies. To have a Platinum Trophy is my way of saying to a developer, "Job well done. I enjoyed your game enough to play it as far as you would dare me to." It's a great motivator. If I don't enjoy a game, I never Platinum it. But those I did Platinum, it's usually a pleasure to have explored every nook, cranny, game mode, and difficulty (even the grindy ones). And there are some Platinums I really do feel pride towards, like from the Killzone series, or Vanquish. And goodness gracious that Vanquish Platinum is a bear. Super underrated game, and beating it on the toughest difficulty is one of the most difficult challenges I've undertaken in gaming. It was so fulfilling to see that Platium go "ping!" I'm not sure I would have done it if all I'd been rewarded was an incremental bump on my Xbox Gamerscore.