I’ve written before about the Xbox 360’s Achievements system, which rewards you for performing certain tasks in videogames and adds points to your overall Gamerscore. It’s arguably an old-fashioned idea, a return to the days of the arcades when players wanted to get their initials in the #1 spot on that Space Invaders cabinet.
But other than that, there’s no real use to one’s Gamerscore. It’s just one more way videogamers can compete with one another. Videogamers are a competitive lot, to be sure, so I suppose I should not have been surprised by the existence of LevelMy360.com. But I was, nonetheless.
I won’t deny that I get a certain Pavlovian satisfaction whenever I hear that little “pop” sound and a round box opens up at the bottom of my screen, informing that I’ve done something impressive (some of my recent achievements, in the game Crackdown, include “Airtime Assassin: Shoot and kill 5 gang members in a single jump” and “Body Juggler: Use explosives to keep a body up in the air for 10 seconds”).
But you get nothing for a high Gamerscore other than, supposedly, the respect of your fellow gamers. But let’s examine that idea. How much respect do you really get? Sure, I’ve got one person in my gaming group who happens to have a Gamerscore close to mine, and I find it fun to keep track of which of us is currently on top. But paying to get far ahead of him would obviously remove any enjoyment I’m getting out of it. The rest of my friends are either so far ahead or so far behind that it doesn’t matter to me.
Again, I’d have a hard time ponying up my hard-earned cash for something like this without a clear idea of whom I’m going to impress. Other than a few of my friends, I don’t care about anyone else’s Gamerscore. And the one or two players out there who have the highest Gamerscores of all–100,000 points or more? My reaction to them is, “Wow–they must have a lot of time on their hands.” Or, “I guess that’s what this person has decided they want to be in life–they want to be in the guy with the highest Gamerscore.” Someone has to be, I guess.
While I’d never pay money for it myself, I can understand why some people pay to get their World of Warcraft characters leveled up. Maybe they started late and their friends are all level 50. Or maybe they want a richer gaming experience and just don’t have the time to grind. Again, I’d never pay money for something like that, but at least it affects your gameplay experience. You get a clearly useful benefit.
But your Gamerscore? Utterly useless. It’s like paying someone to take your place in the town softball league?what’s the point? The only person who could justifiably do this is Hedonism-Bot.