For those who are still playing catch-up, this is…
In the transition from the era of the PlayStation 2 to that of the Xbox 360 (and their respective counterparts), the message was clear: online was the future. A prediction that I think you’ll all agree turned out to be correct, for better or worse. There were some things that made the generational leap a bit more attractive, though. Like the introduction of a system for tracking specific accomplishments across your entire gaming library - assigning each one a value depending on their requirements - and sharing them with your friends.
Today, Achievements mean different things to different people. To some, they appeal to our inner magpie (the same one that’s kept the Pokémon franchise going for so long), the desire to collect everything for no justifiable reason. To others, they pose as bragging rights; a form of competition between friends and siblings.
I once saw Achievements (and Trophies) as both of these things. Now, I see them for what they really are; the trinkets of an omnipotent presence, silently persuading you to play the game his way. A little over-dramatic, perhaps, but since the day that Trophies were introduced, I forgot that games were about the journey, not the prizes at the end. It took one very special game to help me come to my senses.
That game was Mass Effect.