Bridging the Generation Gap

The Console Generations. Every one has been drastically different. From controls to hardware to visuals, each console has offered something big and different enough to catch our attention, but there has been several constants among change. Each console has given us pretty standard controls, though some have tried to convert us to Motionology, where as others are just trying to get some of those wayward souls back by offering a non-standard accessory to ease the transition. They also come with games. A broad statement, but it’s true. Games will always be the constant with a gaming console. No matter how much they change, they will always be games. More onto my point, however, was this generation offered us a little something more in the form of Gamertags. More importantly, Achievements.

Achievements, Trophies, Accomplishments…Whatever you want to refer to them as; love ’em or hate ’em, Achievements one of the biggest changes to the gaming community in years and have influenced an whole new generation of gamers and have reinvigorated the rest. In the past, beating a game or a frustrating boss meant bragging rights among your school yard chums and a sense of self accomplishment. To prove yourself, you had to either recreate your glory by beating that said game/boss in front of your friends or show them a completed save file. An example from my childhood would be the day I beat Donkey Kong Country. To celebrate, I went to urinate since it’d been hours of holding it so I wouldn’t fall out of “The Zone”. I still remember finishing up my business and planting my hands on the door before leaving and just grinning at a job well done. Still one of the hardest games to this day, and I had konquered it. (See what I did there?) After a moment of self glory, I opened the door to find my big brother and my little cousin wrestling on the bed in his room across from the bathroom, where my glory was achieved. (Again, see what I did? I believe this is how being a on a roll starts) As I enter the room, I see the controller still on the bed. As I looked to the screen, my save file was gone. It a state of shock I backed out to the title screen and went back to the save files. At that moment, I put the controller down, rested my face into my hands and the world went away. I wasn’t angry, not at first. I was something I had never felt before. I was, for the first time, Heartbroken. It’s been decades and I’ve gotten over it, but writing this brings back memories of that day…and it still kind of hurts. In the back of my head, I still have the feeling my brother and cousin did it on purpose because they saw how happy it made me. They used to be dicks, they still can be, so it’s not a thought I’m willing to brush off with ease. I digress.

The point is games have always been a proving ground for hand/eye coordination, endurance, strategy, competitiveness and determination among other things and we really didn’t have a system of proof until this current generation. That may sound stupid to some people, but I like the idea of having my gaming accomplishments recorded and displayed online as part of my “gamer” profile. This is the first step to what could become recording a gamer’s history over future generations, if it’s done properly. Again that may sound stupid, but Basketball players have trophies for a lifetime of their accomplishments, Directors have award for their body of work…I’m not asking for a physical trophy, a digital one would do just fine. Sure the difference is they get payed to do it, but they also love doing it. I love gaming and even thought I don’t get paid for it, I’m not going to stop. Getting a single achievement is great, but seeing what I’ve done over the past two years is pretty amazing. It’s great seeing how much I’ve done with something I love do over the course the time I’ve had my Xbox. (Just shy of 3 years) As we as gamers get older, we become less petty when it comes to having to prove what games we’ve played/beaten etc but it’s still awesome to have my history readily available online to prove something if need be. Now onto the proper point to this article.

This being the first generation to do achievements/trophies, the industry has a great chance to bridge the gap between the console generations and make this more of just a gimmick; make it something worth our while. Microsoft seems to be in the best position to do this. They’ve been linking the gamer card since the original Xbox and what will they do when they link it to the next generation Xbox. Will they just carry over some aspects? I hope now. Will they carry everything over and let you continue what you, as a gamer, have started with your score? I bloody well hope so. I’m pretty proud of what I’ve been able to accomplish in the past 3 years of owning my 360 and if I could continue that into the next generation, from where I left off on the 360, that would truly be awesome. People always say: “It’s not fair, I can’t catch up to you”, which is stupid. I’ve been gaming and game day-after-day upping that score. It’s a history of gaming. It’s not about someone new trying to catch up to some who’s been playing for 3 years, it’s about veterancy. I’ve been at this a long time, 50k GamerScore is like a rank. I’ve been at this a long time and when I’m 50, I want to be able to show off how much of a gamer nerd I am by having a crazy high score or rank or whatever. It shows the new gamers that I’ve been around the block. The reason I want to be able to continue on where I left off with the new generation is that if I ever have kids and they want to play games like their old man, I want them to start their own history while at the same time I can show them mine. Which gives them the opportunity to ask questions about old games they see in my history and so on.

Building a history would be relatively easy. I mean, when we do make the jump to the next generation, they can categorize the achievements pages by console, so you can flip past the generations and not have older ones mixing with new ones, but keeping your score the same and just keep adding onto it. It wouldn’t be difficult with the 360, though I’m not sure how the PSN would do it. I know they record it online, but switching to a new console might bring up some issues, unless they allow you to download you past trophy history on the PS4. They might even have it set up completely different and more user friendly next time around, who knows. In any case, I like this idea. I wouldn’t have written about it if I didn’t. I’m definitely sure some people will hate it, but discussion is what ideas are all about.

So this is my plea to the industry. Don’t let this become a gimmick! Let’s make it one of those constants that stays throughout future generations. It was a good idea. Let me keep my gamer card throughout future generations! Steam has already got this down. It never has to change, so your history just keeps building. The PSN and XBL need to make recording your progress a constant in this ever changing industry. The only other thing I could hope for, in a perfect world, would be a single unification of the tags. Places like Giant Bomb and Raptr are a good start, but they only allow us to add our multiple tags to one place to keep a record of it all. What I want is a way to log into one gamer tag across multiple consoles. I know it won’t happen, but I did say this would have to be a perfect world.

I now have an online identity and making me start over from scratch each generation is cruel. Let this be a beginning for us and future generations. I wish I had this as a kid! I could look back without needing to keep it all in my brain. Remember games I forgot I played, see what I achieved. This generation started something great, it’s now up to the industry to decided if it lives or dies in the next generation.

– Your friendly neighborhood SharpShotApollo