Time for a nerd milestone! Back in November 2005 my friend Keenan and I sat outside the local Best Buy all night long so that we could each get a then-brand new Xbox 360 on launch day. With a little time share help from my parents, we made it through the night and eventually stumbled home the next morning with our shiny new game systems. I can’t remember which games Keenan picked up, but my first batch was Perfect Dark Zero, Amped 3, and Condemned: Criminal Origins.
After hooking the system up, I got my introduction to this new thing called Xbox achievements. Microsoft had this brilliant idea to hook a meta-game into all the games that would be released on their console. Each game would come with unlockable achievements that gamers would earn for accomplishing various things within the games… Stuff like “Complete the game on hard difficulty,” “Shoot 100 barrels,” “Collect all the hidden gems,” and so forth. Each achievement would be tied to a point value that would accrue in your gamer account across all games. So, for example, you could win 60 points by playing Call of Duty and switch over to win 30 points in Mass Effect and end up with 90 new points in your gamer account.
The crazy thing about achievements and gamerscore is that they mean absolutely nothing. You can’t trade points in for anything, you don’t get special access to anything with them, and they don’t even give you access to new parts of games. They are just meaningless points that accrue. The brilliant thing about them is that they are utterly addictive to obsessive geek personalities, and they spur gamers to play every Xbox game we can get our hands on. After I earned my first achievement points, I knew I had to gorge myself and hoard as many points as I possibly could get. Each retail game typically comes with 1000 achievement points you can unlock, and each downloadable game usually has 200 unlockable points.
From 2005 through today, I’ve played 341 different games on the Xbox 360. Some were really good, and many were completely dire. I fully admit to having pushed my way through quite a few truly terrible games (Hannah Montana: The Movie: The Game, I’m looking at you) just to get my hands on more sparkly gamerscore points. A week or so ago, I realized I was getting pretty close to 100,000 points, and I decided I needed to plan my gaming strategy so that I’d land exactly on the 100k mark. I inched my way up to 99,950 points and decided that I needed to make the last achievement be something worthy of this truly dorky milestone.
I used the stat tracking tools on TrueAchievements.com (yes, there are whole websites devoted to tracking and monitoring Xbox gamerscore now) to search out achievements I had yet to earn that would net me those missing 50 points. There were a lot to choose from, but I decided to go for an achievement called Visions of the Future in the very first Assassin’s Creed game. Over the years the Assassin’s Creed franchise has become one of my favorites, so it seemed fitting that I’d hit 100k by going back to the first game in the series. After reading up on the achievement, I realized that all I needed to do to earn it was to load my save game from the end of Assassin’s Creed, finish the very end of the game, and watch the end credits all the way through. I guess I just didn’t watch the credits when I originally played the game.
After loading in and doing a couple of quick actions, I sat back to watch the names roll past. And then, ding!, 50 more points dumped into my account, bringing me to 100,000 gamerscore. As of this writing, my account is sitting on 100k even, but I probably will unlock something new tomorrow and mess up all those nice, round zeros. Any non-gamers reading this probably will think I’m insane. My only response is that this is what I do when you’re watching sports.
Onward to 200k!