This article originally appeared in PSM3 magazine.
The clock has struck midnight. I'm no longer sure how many hours I've been playing this game for. I'm lost in the single-minded pursuit of collectables. Finally, as I discover the last item, I feel a wave of satisfaction as that final pling signifies another Trophy set has been completed.
So where did my obsession with virtual silverware come from? I've always been a bit of a completionist when it comes to games, as working through them to find all collectables, secrets and the like appeals to my OCD nature. Before the days of Trophies I was already doing this on certain titles - I spent months getting 100% completion on GTA: Vice City and all I got was that lousy t-shirt! It still felt like I had achieved something big, but other than inviting people round to see my new outfit there wasn't an outlet to demonstrate what I had done.
With the arrival of Trophies that all changed, as there was now a way to represent these accomplishments and proudly show them off to others. By collecting these awards I could demonstrate my gaming prowess and commitment to completion.
Collecting Trophies changed the way I approach games. One of the first things I do now after getting a new game is scan through the Trophy list, so I can efficiently maximise my collecting on the first play. It's given me another reason to explore areas and modes of games that otherwise I might not have bothered with.
One of the major downsides to Trophy collecting is going for awards requiring massive amounts of grinding to unlock. It's so frustrating to finish a game's story, sometimes several times, then be left with one or more Trophies that need hours of repetition to unlock, although this can sometimes lead to creative solutions.