I could lie and say that I don’t really pay attention to my gamerscore on Xbox Live, and that one of the reasons I prefer playing games on my 360 instead of my PS3 isn’t because the achievements add to my gamerscore, and that I just happened to notice that I topped 50,000 points when I got the “Stealing is wrong, kids!” achievement in Bodycount for “diminishing the scavenger population”.
But none of those things is true. I can’t help but follow achievements and my gamerscore. It’s an insidious system because it’s effective. And I do gravitate to games on the 360 partly for that illusory feeling that I’m contributing to a body of work. And I noticed the exact moment I topped 50,000 because I was waiting for it to happen.
I was at 49,987 when the “achievement earned” sound dinged and that little box popped up on the screen. I checked the list, but the achievement was only 5 points for killing ten enemies with mines. I was still 18 points away from 50,000. Shortly thereafter, the sound dinged again. It was a 20 pointer for killing some indeterminate number of the guys who run around the levels picking up the scattered tokens that power your special abilities. “Stealing is wrong, kids!” it read. “Diminish the Scavenger Population”.
So here I sit, after six years, with a gamerscore of 50,002. I wish I could turn that feature off so it would stop distracting me from more important pursuits. Like finally getting a platinum trophy on the PS3.