The Value of Fake Achievement

A long time ago, I wrote about how games can present fake achievement which can be abused by players in unhealthy ways. Someday I’d like to revisit this topic and discuss how fake achievement can be used in healthy ways.

For example, here’s an article about experiments showing that “meaningless rituals” can improve feelings of self-discipline and thereby improve actual self-control. Sometimes, going through defined steps and completing goals - even empty ones that accomplish nothing - make us feel like we can do things and we can then bring that motivation to our actual real-life goals.

I’ve had motivational rough patches where, say, completing quests in Kingdoms of Amalur: Reckoning was a vital part of my writing process. And plenty of people have suggested that, say, Stardew Valley could be helpful for players with depression, or Minecraft for players with ADHD, due to the way their goals are structured.

Fake achievement in games can be a stepping stone and not just a crutch. I think that’s worth a closer look.