The Year with No New Games–Part 3: Once You’ve Popped, You Can’t Stop

by Kim Wong

If you’ve ever played an Xbox 360 or Xbox Live Arcade game, you’ll know the sound. That addictive little pop that draws the gamer into a positive reinforcement loop that some call ruinous, while others acclaim as purpose-creating. It’s the sound of achievements unlocking, and it played a huge role in derailing my quest to complete 29 downloadable and retail games in 12 months.

Let’s take a look at that original gaming schedule again:

January 2011: Vanquish, Super Meat Boy, Battlefield: Bad Company 2-Vietnam
February: Alan Wake, Splosion Man, Enslaved: Odyssey to the West
March: Dead Space, Halo Wars, Wolfenstein
April: Singularity, Conan
May: Metro 2033, Castlevania: Symphony of the Night
June: The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion, LEGO Rock Band, The Beatles Rock Band
July: Fable II, Penny Arcade Adventures 1 and 2
August: Alpha Protocol, Modern Warfare 2 (Veteran difficulty)
September: Mass Effect, Call of Duty 4 (Veteran difficulty)
October: Saints Row 2, Prince of Persia
November: Bully: Scholarship Edition, The Secret of Monkey Island
December: Grand Theft Auto IV, Trials HD

Of those 29 games, I only managed to complete Vanquish and Battlefield: Bad Company 2-Vietnam. I unlocked all achievements in Battlefield: Bad Company 2-Vietnam, while I only have one achievement left in Vanquish. But it’s not the actual pursuit of achievements in the games on the schedule that derailed this project. Rather, it’s the pursuit of achievements in games that I had previously completed and hadn’t thought about until I started this project. Let’s take a look at some of what I’ve accomplished in 2011:

Marvel: Ultimate Alliance: started in October 2007, last previously played in June 2009, completed to 100% January 2011
Aegis Wing: started in November 2007, last previously played in February 2009, completed to 100% in January 2011
Gears of War: started in May 2008, last previously played in March 2009, completed on Insane in co-op in January 2011
Magic: The Gathering-Duels of the Planeswalkers: started in June 2009, last played in November 2009, completed to 100% in February 2011
Halo 3: started in October 2007, last played in July 2010, completed to 100% in February 2011
Alien Hominid HD: started and last played in April 2009, completed to 100% in February 2011
Ticket to Ride: started in June 2008, last played in June 2009, completed to 100% in February 2011

While attempting to complete games from my backlog, I actually dug deeper than intended and exhumed games that I had originally considered completed to my satisfaction. Instead, I tried to achievement 100% completion on as many as possible. More than anything else, this pursuit of 100% completion derailed my project. And I couldn’t be happier for it. An explanation next time.