Keith Stuart (of The Guardian – a broadsheet newspaper over here in the UK and of the Gamesblog) recently covered, in his article, the strange ways in which people become attached to their Gamerscore on Xbox Live. Gamerscores are a way in which to build up ‘cred’ on the 360 scene – namely the higher your score then theoretically you are a better gamer than the guy/gal with less points. Certain actions in a game lead to points, such as completing a level or finding a hidden section.
As Mr Stuart points out, for some this has become much more than a way to check out your opponent, but has in fact become an obsession for some. You’ll find there’s a certain way to get a huge number of points in Geometry Wars, but to do so you have to spend hours perfecting the technique, and even then there’s a good dose of luck involved there to crack it.
This site takes the Gamerscore one step further – actually listing how you managed to rack up your points. Bear in mind that some games award them very easily and others do not. Suddenly, rather than just flaming your opponent (something I’d never be an advocate of) you can actually laugh at how he’s obsessively played Fifa 2007 to get his points. This suddenly turns a batch of numbers into something far more interesting – a game history, or even a story behind the story as it were.
Keith Stewart also equates having a low gamer score to having a low IQ. Widening the discussion, this is similar to my recent experience on a certain MMO – where I was called a noob. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not a low level character and it was not a mistake really, just a question I’d asked. However, I certainly didn’t take offense at the term ‘noob’. Imagine if you were in a workplace environment and someone insulted you because you didn’t know something. It just came across as crass and stupid of the person who said it, even though it was said in jest. In games it comes across as more stupid, as people are just (on the whole) looking to have a good time.
Whilst I don’t have a 360 yet and thus naturally don’t have a Gamerscore I do want a decent rating when I get one. I guess this is where it’s a boon for publishers, having a system that rewards you and gives you ‘kudos’ on the circuit for having points. Suddenly little Timmy is asking for more games simply to have a better score than Joe across the road. This might be taking it a little too far – but you can see the comparison right there. I guess that’s more ‘points’ to Microsoft for managing to insert that into their online network. I bet the publishers love it!
What really matters, of course, is having fun with your games. So, whilst I’d never recommend becoming obsessed with your Gamerscore – unless you are a totally hardcore player – I would certainly suggest that you consider your reasons if you are looking at those scores a little too much…