Roll back the clock to 17:33 on September the 30th 2008, I’d have been playing my PlayStation 3 and would have just pinged the first (of what has become many) Platinum trophies. However, what I didn’t realise, was this moment would change the way I’d game for many years to come…

Sony introduced the Trophy system to gamers in 2008, a couple of years into the PS3’s life, rewarding us with virtual trinkets for completing differing tasks in our beloved games. Ranging from completing individual chapters/levels to finishing a game on a specific difficulty setting, obtaining complete sets of hidden treasures to uncovering a game’s whole map – the scope is endless. And once you have earned all the trophies a game has to offer, you get an elusive ‘Platinum’ trophy. These are then all displayed on your PSN profile (a public facing account) so all your friends can see just how well you have done, and just how many trophies you have earned.

I loved this – it meant I could play a myriad of titles, completing them in full (doing everything the developer asked me to do to get those shiny trophies) and it would be there on my virtual scorecard for ALL to see. Soon after my first (which was for Uncharted: Drake’s Fortune, in case you were wondering), I’d pinged many many more. LittleBigPlanet, Midnight Club, Prince of Persia, the list literally goes on…. Here’s my count so far… 

It was great, I really enjoyed challenging myself, enjoyed pushing my skills, and liked the fact I believed I was getting value for money. I then discovered ’Trophy Guides’, where someone would post an online tutorial on how to unlock each trophy, and include a short write up on how long it might take, how hard it is, and what troubles you might come across. This really helped me chose what games to play and plan how I would go about unlocking the title’s sacred Platinum. What this also helped me do was avoid games were achieving this accolade was hard/impossible/too time intensive. And that’s where I think gaming took a turn for the worse.

Now, I am not saying in anyway I have not enjoyed what I’ve been playing over the past ‘X’ amount of years since trophies were available, or that I hate gaming, or even that the past 235 Platinum Trophies have been a waste of my time and effort. But more I have been tailoring my hobby towards unlocking virtual rewards, rather than playing for the love of playing. I would solider through experiences I wasn’t enjoying (Horizon I am looking at you), play the same game multiple times (Uncharted 4 I am looking at you) and even spent hours trying to pull of the perfect combo (Batman: Arkham Asylum I am looking at you). I’d then find the next game I was interested in I could Platinum, and move on to that.

This has meant I have missed out on a few big titles (not that I would have played them all), not played games everyone says are brilliant (Bioshock: Infiinte – Hopefully a Switch version is coming soon) all because I wouldn’t be able to get the Platinum. I realised around 6 months ago this was starting to hamstring me. I had started Days Gone and was really struggling to like it, but as I had started it, I felt like I had to continue as it was on my trophy list and it wouldn’t be platinumed… I lost all motivation to game and would find something else ‘better’ to do.

Then, along came Astral Chain. I had not played my Switch for almost 2 years, the games didn’t have trophies, and it wouldn’t count towards my online PlayStation trophy cabinet. As I was fed up with Days Gone, this seemed like a good deal as it meant I could just play through the game and not worry about having another unfinished game on my trophy list. I finished the game and absolutely enjoyed the experience of using my Switch again. The handheld/TV gaming aspect and the lack of a public progression system (aka trophies) meant I could enjoy the game how I wanted, on whichever difficulty level I felt like, wherever I was around the house. This led to a mini Switch revival in my life. I all but forgot about my PS4, and also the addiction (I believe that’s what it was) to trophies.

Roll forward to the beginning of 2020 and I felt like going back on to the PS4. I had received some PSN credit as a gift and treated myself to Sea of Solitude and Untitled Goose Game. I found myself just playing the games. I didn’t check the trophy guides beforehand, I didn’t even check them while I was playing. I enjoyed the experiences for what they were and it felt great. I won’t lie though. I enjoyed both so much that I did end up getting all the trophies, but this felt different. I wasn’t tied to the game. I didn’t spend hours doing it. They came naturally and I still had fun.

Since then, I started to play Jedi: Fallen Order, didn’t enjoy it and stopped. It doesn’t mater. I don’t have to finish the game, I don’t need the trophies and my time is much better spent on something I enjoy.

A series that I had tended to avoid was Assassin’s Creed, however, I felt a specific need to play a game set in Ancient Greece, bought Assassin’s Creed Odyssey (again not looking at the trophy guide beforehand) and have absolutely LOVED it. This is a game I would have, and did, miss out on if I hadn’t managed to change my gaming habits.

I am really happy to have made this change, and feel like now I can once again enjoy my hobby like it’s the 1990’s. I am not saying I am not going to achieve any more Platinum trophies. I certainly will. However, they will be on my terms, and I won’t avoid games (or my Nintendo Switch) because of the shiny shinys. I also hope that if you have feel this way about gaming, reading this might help.

I know it’s been a long blog, and if you’ve made it this far, THANKS! /∆

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