• Ben

How I Got Addicted to Trophy Hunting.

If you are reading this, you are more than likely a trophy hunter yourself. For those of you that aren't I better explain that this form of trophy hunting has nothing to do with killing innocent animals for sport. No, this is the form of trophy hunting that is far more addictive.


The trophy system is found on all PlayStation consoles from the PlayStation 3 onwards. They are digital 'pats on the back'. You do a certain something in a game, you get a trophy. These 'certain somethings' are different for each game, collectively they are referred to as the game's trophy list. Each list is broken down into different trophy rarities, generally speaking, for the easy tasks you'll get a bronze, a little tougher, a silver, harder still, a gold, and finally once you have all other trophies for the game you will earn the coveted, Platinum Trophy. The ultimate digital, 'well done'.


Now you may be asking, 'what can you do with these trophies after you've earned them?' And the answer to that is, well, nothing. You can show them off, but they are utterly meaningless to anyone else, but yourself. Sure, the people who know how difficult a certain game is to 'platinum' may congratulate you, but the trophies themselves mean nothing to them. For some people this might be all they need, that's the reason they trophy hunt, so they can show off, but for me, back in 2009 when I started collecting trophies, they meant so much more, they meant the world to me. They were my world.


The trophy system was actually introduce to the PlayStation 3 in 2008, a year after it was launched, in 2007. Now, just for a bit of background, I was 24, living alone in a rented house with no internet, so I wasn't aware of the trophy system being introduced. In fact, I was getting ready to sort my life out, give up gaming all together and try to 'grow up' as person. I had just broken up with my girlfriend, fallen out with my best friend, which in turn meant I wasn't working (never work for a friend), and I just wanted a fresh start. I have always admired film and wanted to get into the business, so I was thinking of moving to London and giving it a go. My auntie had connections at the time, so it was at least worth a try. I wasn't bothered about what I was going to do, I just wanted to be in the film (or TV) industry.


I just mentioned 'I wanted to give up gaming all together', I wasn't really that heavily into gaming at the time, I saw them as a distraction more than anything. When I was younger I was for sure, the NES, the Mega Drive, and finally PC gaming. I would be on them constantly, but as I got older I kind of grew out of them. I played a bit of the first PlayStation, but only at a friend's house. I didn't actually own one until much later. By the time the PlayStation 2 had come along I was in my late teens and just wanted to go out and get drunk all the time. I had a PlayStation 2, but the only games I played on it were Gran Turismo and Grand Theft Auto. My main use for the PS2 was as a DVD player. That's one thing that never left me, my love for film, I had a collection of DVDs that was in the 1000s at this point. Then by the time the PlayStation 3 was coming out I had my own rented house, a decent job in the building trade, and blu-rays were now a thing. The PlayStation 3 was the best and cheapest blu-ray player available at the time, so I naturally bought one.


I played games like Resistance: Fall of Man, F.E.A.R. Heavenly Sword, Assassin's Creed, and of course, GTA IV and Uncharted: Drake's Fortune. These games made me start thinking about gaming differently, they weren't just a distraction any more, they were an adventure. None of these games had trophies, they were released before the system was implemented (with the exception of GTA IV and Uncharted, trophies were patched in for those games later on). But still, I started losing interest again after a while. Gaming would always come along in waves and I wouldn't stick with it for very long.


To loop back around we are now at the point where I was thinking of making a clean break and moving away. Then one day I took my PS3 round to my parent's house to update it, because like I said, I had no internet at my house. When I got it home there was a new icon on the XMB (or UI), trophies. I had no idea what this meant and couldn't look it up, again, no internet, so I just carried on as normal, playing casually and planning my eventual move.


It kept bugging me though, 'what the hell are these trophies all about?' I decided it must be an online thing, so I took my PS3 to my parent's house again to 'hook it back up' to the internet again, there's a term we don't use any more. I did a little research and realised they were in-game achievements. I use the term 'achievements' there in a non-Xbox sense, I had no idea about the achievements system either (which had come out the year before), I had never owned an Xbox. As a person who likes to 'make lists' (if you know, you know) and tick things off, this had me quite excited. I looked up which games had trophy support and one I had purchased recently, but hadn't played yet had them, Resistance 2. I rushed home and loaded it up. At the time when you went on the trophies section on the XMB it was just blank, so I didn't know how they worked or what you had to do, I didn't even realise games had their own list, so I just started playing. For quite a while nothing happened, and I thought maybe I needed to update the game again, which meant another trip to the parent's place. But then, on the 16th May 2009 at 20:10, it happened, that noise we all know and love, along with little notification in the top left of the screen, You have earned a trophy, Recycler, it said. I had no idea what I had done, but it felt good.


That exact moment is when my life changed and took a different path. The more I played, the more I wanted to tick the trophies off the list, which I had now found by the way. The more I ticked off trophies over the coming days and weeks, the more I forgot about moving to London. I was hooked, dare I say it, addicted. Let's not sugar-coat it, it was absolutely an addiction. I was playing games all day and night, just trying to earn that next trophy so I could get that brief rush whenever I heard the trophy notification sound. The way I figured it, no matter how much I failed in real-life, I could always just get a trophy and eventually a platinum to give me that sense of accomplishment. I didn't need to go to London and try to make it in the film business, I could just lie on my bed at 2 o' clock on a Wednesday afternoon, earn a trophy and feel just as accomplished. That may sound completely sad, and well, it is. To make matters worse, this was how my life went for the next few years.


I don't know if my experience with trophy hunting, the early years at least, is an isolated thing, I fear it's not. With the current never-ending bombardment of 'pay to platinum' games, with no end in sight I might add, I feel a lot of people are still stuck in the highly addictive side of trophy hunting. I don't want to come across as patronising, but I hope people stuck in this rut find a way out, I know exactly how frustrating it can be. To be honest, shame on these little indie developers churning out these 'pay to platinum' games, they know they are total crap and that no effort has gone into them, but they know the addicted trophy hunters will still buy them. They just feed the habit in a dangerous way. If they were around when I was in my 'prime', I know I would have bought them all too. I have heard from many people that as soon as they give up the cheap, easy platinums, they feel so much better.


I was definitely not in a good place back then and getting addicted to trophy hunting was a big part of that, but let's not end on a negative note. If it wasn't for trophies, I wouldn't have met my wife. Shortly after the addiction started I got the internet in my house so I could research games and update my PS3 from home. I was quite happy without the internet at home for a long time, but I just had to have it now. I also started using a dating app, I forget the name of it, but this is where I met my wife. Hell, my son wouldn't have been born if I hadn't met my wife on that app. Let's go one step further, you wouldn't be reading this right now either. I wouldn't have started my YouTube channel if it wasn't for trophies.


Sure, it was rough for the early years when I was addicted to, nay, dangerously addicted to trophy hunting, I was depressed a lot, quite severely, in fact , but I got through it and managed balance my life properly again, and now because of trophies, my family, and of course everyone who watches my videos, I work from home, play video games for a living and am the happiest I've ever been, so, thank you...


Now don't get me wrong, I still love to play games for trophies, but only games I enjoy. As soon as it stops being fun for a certain game, I move on. I do hope that some of you get some use from this article, especially if you're still in the 'addicted' stage. Ultimately, what I hope you take from this is, make trophy hunting part of who you are, not solely who you are.

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