It used to be that just reaching the end of a video game was enough. After hours of playing and working your way through different and progressively harder levels, you'd finally reach the end. In a climactic battle against the gnarliest boss you've encountered in the entire game you would finally reach the end and could set down your controller with a sigh of relief. You have beaten it, and you are the master.
Today's video games, however, don't settle for letting you merely beat the game. You're welcome to play through the story line and reach the conclusion, but that's not where the real fun hides any more. Instead, video games today have what are known as Achievements. Each game comes with a different set of unique Achievements that encourage you to spend time playing the game in a different way than you normally would. Essentially, they are little trophies for accomplishing certain things within a game. For example, I recently bought Starcraft 2 (it's about time, Blizzard!) and have attained Achievements for killing a certain number of units in a limited amount of time, for executing certain aspects of the game very quickly, for progressing the storyline forward in the campaign mode and many other actions. There are probably a hundred more that I have not even begun working on yet-- but I plan on it. It adds an interesting dynamic and a ton of replay value when you have something to work toward other than just "finishing" the game.
WHY AM I WRITING ABOUT VIDEO GAMES ON A PERSONAL DEVELOPMENT BLOG?
I've recently realized that I have taken the concept of video game Achievements and applied them to my own development. Instead of just mindlessly rushing through life to get to the end, like an old school video game, I've been taking time to accomplish interesting and unique things on the side. If you could take a look at my Sam: The Video Game Achievement Showcase, you'd see the following:
The "Go Vegetarian for a Week" Achievement
The "Completely Disconnected Weekend" Achievement
The "Complete a Duathlon" Achievement
The "Travel to a Foreign Country" Achievement
In addition to these already accomplished achievements, I'm working on a couple more:
The "Re-read all of the Lord of the Rings books" Achievement
The "Write a 2nd Ebook" Achievement
The "1/2 Marathon" Achievement
Video games aren't the greatest way to spend leisure time but they have at least encouraged me to spend time away from the beaten path and to try new ways of doing things.
What achievements have you earned in You: The Video Game? What ones are you working toward? Share in the comments!