At 127,820, my gamerscore is but a fraction of the 1 million that Ray Cox IV, also known as Stallion83 on Xbox Live, dedicated over eight years to working on close to full time.
Microsoft probably had no idea how achievements would change the way gamers play video games when they were implemented with the Xbox 360 in 2005. It isn’t strange for gamers to seek out every minute or set a challenge for themselves in games. Microsoft capitalized on completists by creating a system of rewarding them with a quantifiable badge of honor known as gamerscore — a number assigned to every Xbox Live profile based on the achievements unlocked through Xbox 360 and Xbox One games.
Early in the Xbox 360’s release, publishers didn’t really know what to do with these achievements. It seemed like an inconvenience, because every Xbox 360 game was required to have them as long as the gamerscore totaled 1,000. It was common for a game to feature five achievements to meet that total, making for an uninspired achievement list. Now companies use achievements as a carrot on a stick to keep gamers invested in their games. Some games may feature up to 50 achievements with varying scores attributed to them as long as they total 1,000 Gamerscore. Other companies, like Epic Games’ “Gears of War,” featured notoriously difficult to obtain and time consuming achievements entitled “Seriously.” They’re an in-joke with Epic Games and the achievement community because very few gamers have the dedication to see them through.
According to Cox’s blog, he is an “achievement junkie” set out to reach a 1 million gamerscore in early 2006. He’s been profiled in magazines, newspapers, numerous online outlets and has been the “Guinness World Record” holder for gamerscore since 2010. Here’s the kicker; he’s been doing it almost entirely full-time as he supplements income through endorsement deals and partnerships with gaming media outlets. On March 12, while live streaming Titanfall for Xbox One on Twitch, Cox finally hit his goal with over 8,000 viewers watching.
“I’m not stopping, I’m not going. I’m staying No. 1 forever,” he said.
Some might consider gamers that hunt for achievements and trophies (the PlayStation equivalent of Xbox achievements) to be a little on the obsessive-compulsive side. I can’t argue with that. It takes a certain type of personality, and sometimes an unhealthy one, to spend countless hours earning every achievement, adding to a long list of 100 percent complete games.
I used to plot a gaming course based solely on achievements, and I’ve earned 100 percent completion in games that I loved and hated. I’ve even played games for well over a hundred hours, and with others I gave up because the investment was just too much. In the end, there were always more games with more achievements, and that’s when gaming became less fun.
Cox achieved a remarkable feat, and whether he fades out of the public conscious or not, he’ll always have his achievements. Five years after I’d started my own meager gamerscore journey I decided to get away from achievements and gamerscore. Unlike Cox, I realized I wasn’t willing to sacrifice everything.
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