The Achievement Machine: Understanding Xbox 360 Achievements in Gaming Practices

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The Achievement Machine: Understanding Xbox 360 Achievements in Gaming Practices

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Publication Article, peer reviewed scientific
Title The Achievement Machine: Understanding Xbox 360 Achievements in Gaming Practices
Author(s) Jakobsson, Mikael
Date 2011
English abstract
Xbox Live achievements and gamerscores have become an integral part of Xbox 360 gaming. Based on the framework provided by Microsoft, the community has developed intriguing gaming practices where the individual games become pieces of a larger whole. This paper, based on a two year community study, explores how players have reacted and adapted to the system. To get at this shift in console gaming, the achievement system is seen as a massively multiplayer online game (MMO) where separate achievements are the functional equivalent of quests. By conceptualizing the achievement system as an MMO, the paper questions the dichotomy between PC/MMO and console gaming. The paper also goes into detailed descriptions of gaming habits and strategies that have emerged as gamers appropriate the achievement system, in particular looking at three player types: achievement casuals, hunters and completists. My conclusions are that the Xbox Live achievement system only partially functions as a reward system. More importantly, in terms of impact on player practices, it is an invisible MMO that all Xbox Live members participate in, whether they like it or not. On one hand, the different strategies and ways of conceptualizing the system shows how players have appropriated the technology and rules provided by Microsoft, and socially constructed systems that fit their play styles. On the other hand, many players are deeply conflicted over these gaming habits and feel trapped in a deterministic system that dictates ways of playing the games that they do not enjoy. Both sides can ultimately be connected to distinguishable characteristics of gamers. As a group, they are known to take pleasure in fighting, circumventing and subverting rigid rule systems, but also to be ready to take on completely arbitrary challenges without questioning their validity.
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Publisher IT University of Copenhagen
Host/Issue Game Studies. The international journal of computer game research;1
Volume 11
ISSN 1604-7982
Language eng (iso)
Subject(s) achievements
Xbox 360
reward systems
gamer culture
massively multiplayer online games
Humanities/Social Sciences
Research Subject Categories::SOCIAL SCIENCES
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