After moving into the world of full time work over a year ago i quickly discovered the value of my time when 40 hours a week were spent at work (many more commuting). After finishing work i found myself sitting down in front of the box and playing the Xbox. Don’t get me wrong i think the Xbox is great but in retrospect i spent a lot of time playing for the sake of it and even more time getting frustrated with it which resulted in many broken controllers, an expensive activity at £25 a piece.
So what kept me playing this marvelous machine even though it led to a bad experience a majority of the time? Achievements! That’s right, that little box that pops up on the screen saying you’ve achieved something.
This was a very cleaver idea of Microsoft! Make people feel they have gained something by playing games and they will keep on playing. It worked with me for sure, i would keep playing a game even though the enjoyment factor had been long lost just so i could get that last achievement.
If achievements were so addictive, why did i stop playing? I achieved too much! This meant every new achievement had less reward value to it. I got to the stage where i would have no emotion when getting a new achievement and i started to feel that actually i wasn’t achieving anything. just adding to a number on the screen.
It was at this point when i decided to pack away the Xbox and try and achieve more meaningful achievements. At first i was lost, what could i do with all this time i had gained? But slowly i found things to do such as learning something new on the guitar/piano or do some programming for fun (yes, for fun!). I also started working towards a MCTS (Microsoft Certified Technology Specialist) Certification which has greatly helped my understanding of .NET and properly made me a better developer. I also read a lot more now which is never a bad thing.
What i learn`t from the whole experience is that Microsoft are rather good at hooking in consumers, and perhaps i need to set my own real world achievements to keep myself hooked in. I can even reward myself when gaining a achievement by buying myself something Ive wanted for a while.