I am almost over my infatuation with the Microsoft achievement point system. Almost….
I was pleased to make a discovery that when I play games on my Microsoft Surface RT that I am also linked to the Xbox Achievement point system. This means that I can increase my gamer score even when I’m not playing my Xbox 360. I have to say that this is an absolutely brilliant move for Microsoft. It has become a big and beautiful world for all types of Microsoft gamers. I have earned all of the available achievment points for Solitaire, Minesweeper, and Mahjong – and I had fun playing them too!
Microsoft seems to get so many things wrong, but they always seem to make up for it in other areas. They have certainly come out on top in the battle of the current generation of consoles. I’m amazed that the 360 came out in 2005 and it still plays games so well. But Microsoft’s entry into the world of video game consoles was a bumpy one. The original Xbox was a great product (although HUGE in size!) and it struggled on the global market – especially in Japan. But somehow Microsoft learned from the original Xbox and adapted the Xbox 360 into a great gaming experience. It has definitely been my console of choice for the last several months. I’m currently playing Diablo 3. It has been a lot of fun to play the game (and get those achievements!)
Perhaps it will be the same way with the Microsoft tablet market. They actually made a great product with the Microsoft Surface, but yet sales have been sluggish. They have some pretty good ads out right now and they seem to be playing them during NFL games. The price has dropped almost half. I paid just over $600 for my Surface and they are advertising a price of $329 – probably minus the keyboard. Personally, I find myself going to it more and more. I love how I can seamlessly use it at my job, write papers on it for school, and play a few games from time to time. After a short learning curve, I acclimated to the Windows 8 graphical environment. I find I prefer it over the iPhone/iPad interface and even the droid interface. The battery life on the Surface RT is also impressive.
I recently bought a game for the Surface. Adera has turned out to be a fun point and click adventure. I enjoyed the free first episode so much that I purchased the Collector’s Edition which has all five episodes and strategy guides. I also earn Xbox gamer points by playing it! One of the achievements had to do with my “sharing” the game. I wanted to get the “A Helping Hand” achievement and apparently shared it as a blog entry on my site.
So how about a little reminder from Scripture about achievements? This one is a real downer if you are hooked on achievement:
Then I considered all that my hands had done and the toil I had expended in doing it, and behold, all was vanity and a striving after wind, and there was nothing to be gained under the sun. Ecclesiastes 2:11 (ESV)
According to this great ancient Hebrew writer, even when you earn all of the achievements – there is only emptiness. Something is still missing. Another interesting verse comes from Paul’s second letter to Timothy:
…who saved us and called us to a holy calling, not because of our works but because of his own purpose and grace, which he gave us in Christ Jesus before the ages began… 2 Timothy 1:9 (ESV)
The dictionary section at the back of my little Greek New Testament describes the word for work (ergon) as a “work, deed, action”. I could easily substitute the word “works” with “achievements” in that verse. In the great scheme of things, it is critical to understand that our achievements don’t really amount to much, but there is something or someone who is far greater. Someone who knows you will only possess full joy when you set aside your own achievements, and trust his own purpose and grace.
When I read these verses, I realize that I need to set aside my obsession with game achievements and gamer scores. Of course I will still play games and continue to get that happy little pop-up sound from Microsoft, but I will keep things in perspective. I’m going to enjoy the game for what it is – not for the achievements I can earn. I’m going to try to live my life with this perspective too.