About sixteen months ago, I had an existential crisis. I don’t think that is particularly uncommon for people in my position or demographic, but it was enough to prompt me to resign from my desk job in the city and make a commitment to spend more time with my family, and doing things that I enjoyed – rather than continue to persevere in a job with people, and in a field, that I simply didn’t enjoy.
A little over twelve months ago, I had the idea to reinvigorate something I had tried, and failed, to do while I was working: earn a gaming achievement every single day. I guess the intention was that my new outlook on life meant that I needed less emphasis on my ‘job’, and having an activity that I was passionate about, that also had some purpose to it, meant that I wasn’t confined to the common trap of self-identifying as my profession. Instead, I could be a writer, a gamer, and a miserable white-collar 9-to-5’er as well. I figured the turn of the financial year was as good a time as any, and my passion at the time was pretty uniquely Xbox, and so with that in mind – I set myself some personal barriers, and started my journey.
For many, many gamers, earning an achievement a day isn’t actually that much of an effort. For variety streamers and even home enthusiasts, they complete this requirement unconsciously. The time and energy they put into their gaming means that achievements just tick into their account effortlessly. However, they also – like me – have birthdays, and families, and Christmas and work functions and any multitude of life events that they can go to without the mental burden of having to ‘squeeze in’ an achievement.
Others, do make an effort. Psyonix VP Jeremy Dunham (in)famously claimed that he pursued an Xbox Achievement and a PlayStation Trophy every single day. A quick look around the internet will also prompt you to stumble across the occasional long-term achievement hunter.
My point here is that I’m neither new or unique in my approach to achievement hunting. I don’t have a 2,000 day streak, there’s been some days when I’ve only earned one achivement and there’s been others that I’ve absolutely ‘cleaned house’. But for the 2017-18 Financial Year (and a little bit before that as I ‘warmed up’), I’ve earned, and documented, my journey towards obtaining an achievement every single day.
So, what did I learn?
I did learn that gaming can impact on those around you. Sometimes, towards the end of the day – I would have to try and wrap-up whatever we were watching in order to jump onto my Xbox One and knock-out an achievement. I will be honest, that sometimes meant that I was somewhat bullish about sharing the TV, even at the expense of watching something that I enjoyed as much as other family members.
There were a couple of times where my achievement hunting required me to push through right to the stroke of midnight, and there were others where I deliberately (and overtly, I usually made-mention of the fact) would stay up past midnight when I knew there was an achievement to be obtained – essentially ‘freeing up’ the following day. It is these small allowances that were necessary in order to get through what I’ve affectionately thought of as ‘Year One’. And it these strategies which I will most likely carry forward into ‘Year Two’.
So, what’s next?
I’ve thought about this a lot over the past few months when I seemed fairly confident that I was ‘going to make it’. I typically have balanced out my effort to grab an achievement on Xbox and then still make comment on other games as I’ve played them, particularly the likes of God of War which I’ve fawned over the past few months, as well as, more recently, a few puzzle games such as Puzzle Agent 2 on PC. Is that sustainable? Probably. Do I want it to be? I’m not really sure.
Right now, I am very very happy that I’ve completed my self-imposed challenge. I’ve done it within the parameters I set myself and in the time I allowed. I know, from history, that sometimes it’s easier to broader the horizons a bit and allow yourself time to experience new things – and in the gaming sense this means trying new games, from small indie romps through to the latest offering from a AAA First Party Studio. Xbox has done a pretty good job under Phil Spencer to deliver on those offerings, but practically speaking – sometimes it’s easier to get a quick lunch-break achievement rather than burn out during the day at work and then pursue a gaming session at night. I’m spending nearly ten days away from my normal gaming devices later this year, but I can promise you I’ll be taking my iPad and my Vita. It’s these instances that I want to allow myself some flexibility on, so the balance I’m seeking here is, essentially, ‘achievable but challenging’.
What does this mean?
Simple. From tomorrow, 1 July 2018, you are going to still get your achievement a day. However those achievements may no longer be exclusively Xbox. I don’t want to lie though, I still find the Xbox to undoubtedly be (forgive the marketing Kool-Aid) ‘the best place to play’, meaning that there will likely be a disproportionate number of Xbox achievements to other platforms – but I also don’t want this to come back and bite me on the bum when somebody does an audit (no doubt when I’m a rich, famous gamer) who finds a ‘gap’ in my record.
With that in mind, this leads to my second change. Scheduled posts. Every day this past year (except one accidental error in posting slightly after midnight) I have played a game, written a post and published it on this blog – but whether it’s timezone changes, daylight savings, or just gremlins in the system, I still have a number of days where posts appear to be ‘doubled up’ on particular days, and completely absent on others. My solution to this will be to schedule a post every evening just before midnight in order to get, roughly, a consistent battle rhythm when it comes to posts. Some days I might still earn the late night or ‘wee hour’ achievements, but you will still see the post time as being from late the following night. I hope that this brings about some consistency going foward, but if there’s any issues, then I may consider doing a ‘minus one’ approach to posting, and just automatically post, even if I have to backdate, at lunchtime, 12pm on the day I earn them. Watch this space.
And now, I plan on settling down for the evening, watching a bit of Netflix and doing very little for the rest of the day. Tomorrow is the start of a new adventure, and I’m very much looking forward to seeing what I’ve missed out on across the gaming spectrum. There’s a Steam Sale in full swing, I’ve recently obtained a new Humble Bundle (well, they took my money out) and I have some cheap-and-cheerful PlayStation discounts to dive into from their sale earlier in the year.
It’s a good time to be an achievement hunter.
It’s an even greater time to be a gamer.