Ahhh. GamerScore. For the uninformed, GamerScore is a points system Microsoft created for use with the Xbox 360, and will soon be ported over to PC and mobile games with the “Live Anywhere” initiative. Basically, each retail Xbox 360 title can have up to 1000 GS available, and downloadable arcade games have 200, which are allocated to achievements, that the developer can use in many interesting ways to add excitement to the game or encourage completion on a harder level, and maybe, take the player into areas of the game they wouldn’t normally go. A good example of this is Call of Duty 2, where in order to complete the game and receive the full 1000 GS, you must complete the game on the ludicrously difficult Veteran level. Ordinarily, I would have finished this game in Normal, and that would have been it. Thanks to my obsessive competition gene, I just had to get the 1000 GS, and I’m so glad I did. The game comes alive at Veteran level, and I’ve never, ever, felt such a sense of accomplishment at getting to the next checkpoint. Another good example is Far Cry, which has achievements allocated to each game type in single and multiplayer. In order to get the full 1000, you need to have played, accomplished several kills and won several times in each type of game. Unfortunately for Far Cry, I didn’t like the game very much, and didn’t bother with getting those achievements. Seemed just a bit too much like hard work if the game doesn’t grab you.
Which segways nicely into my next point. The bad of GamerScore. GamerScore can become a futile addiction. A never ending pursuit of that next thousand. If you are involved in a community of players, and have a large friends list, the competition can become quite intense. The advent of Xbox Live Leader boards hasn’t helped matters at all. Suddenly, being just off the first page re-ignites a fire of rage, and you’ll find yourself walking to the mall and going straight to the game store to buy another 1000GS worth of game. This is where is starts to get ugly. Suddenly you’re playing a game you hate, just to get through it for maximum GS. You start to turn down invitations to play games online unless you can get GS out of it. You start to lose all sense of fun and enjoyment as it becomes your all encompassing life goal. You pass 5000, then 10000. Still, you want more. You’re deep in debt; you have no friends left, either real or online. You’re starting to turn grey due to lack of sunlight and adequate nutrition. Then, all of a sudden, it hits you. Gamerscore has taken over your life.
You decide to stop with this futile chase. You’ll never have the highest GS. There will always be someone with more time and money than you.
This is where I find myself now. I have done the chase for a little while, spurred on by a number of fellow Xbox Live players to stay on the first page. I’ve since re-evaluated my stance. A high GamerScore is really not something worth pursuing. Achievements are worth chasing, as the sense of accomplishment and reward can be extremely gratifying, however I no longer compare myself to others based on GamerScore alone. I look deeper, into how they achieved that score. High scores for games like PGR3, MotoGP, Call of Duty 2 etc are worth far more than King Kong, FIFA RTWC etc, which have GS so easy to achieve it’s almost insulting.
So, Gamerscore. It’s good, no doubt, but it can be bad, and even downright ugly. Enjoy it, and let it be something to help you experience games like never before, but it shouldn’t be what your gaming life is about, at least not for me.