What's your greatest gaming achievement?

Written by Joe Martin

August 3, 2009 | 10:43

Tags: #baldurs-gate #dungeons-and-dragons #games-i-own #rant #rpg

Companies: #bioware

It seems strange but some of my proudest moments are ones that I’ve lived through virtually. Some of the best things I’ve done are things that I’ve never really done – though I don’t mean that in the fantastical “I’ve saved planets and won wars” way that projects in-game experiences as being real.

Yes, I’ve made millions trading star dust and I’ve stormed castles and heroically held the line…but those aren’t the moments I’m proud of, not really. Instead, my greatest achievements in gaming recognise games as something I’ve actually done, not a virtual experience. My mental list of great achievements doesn’t include the time that I saved the world from an evil Vizier, but it does have space for the time that I fought through the climactic elevator battle in Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time without dying.

I’m being careful here not to fall into the all-too-familiar trap of getting carried away with my own story by the way and I can still draw a distinction between my greatest gaming achievement and my greatest actual achievement. The time that I made it all the way to SinTower in a HardCorps run (i.e. all in one go) in SiN Episodes is a highlight, but it pales next to the first time I got published. There’s a Everything2 quote that comes to mind on this topic – “the most you ever dream of is not better than the least you ever accomplish.

Even so though, I’m at the moment readying myself to embark on something that could be a great achievement for me both in terms of gaming performance and personally. I’ve been building up to it for a fortnight.
What's your greatest gaming achievement?

I going to complete the entire Baldur’s Gate trilogy, plus expansion packs back-to-back. I’m going to play Baldur’s Gate 1 and Tales of the Sword Coast, carry my character over into Shadows of Amn and then push on through Throne of Bhaal for the win, so to speak.

You might not think that sounds like a particularly big task, especially for someone who plays games at work, but if that’s your immediate reaction then I’d be willing to bet you’re not terribly familiar with the Baldur’s Gate series. There are bigger gaming achievements out there (a hardcore Nethack run, completing Civ IV on max difficulty or completing every quest in WoW, for example) - but this is the one I've chosen. This is the mountain I've elected to climb.

Playing all the games in one long run is something I’ve actually wanted to do for a number of years, both because it seems an impossibly big task and because I love what I have played of the series and want to see everything the series has to offer. My motivation for actually undertaking the endeavour though (as opposed to just reading Wikipedia and playing the final expansion pack) is something a bit more personal. I’ve discussed my short attention span before and it’s something that I’m actually deeply regretful of, but part of me theorizes that if I can actually manage to get through all these games then I might be able to prove something to myself. If I approach it seriously and in the right way then this could be a life changing experience and I could point back to this and say “Well, if I can do that…”.

What's your greatest gaming achievement?

Life changing experience”? Maybe I’m losing the perspective I was trying to hold on to at the start. Maybe. Then again though, I invested more than 200 hours in just the second game the first (and only) time I actually played it through to completion with a single character. I’ve never fully got into either expansion pack and only skimmed through the first game – so if I can force myself to push through all four games fully, deeply, properly then maybe I actually can use gaming as a form of self-improvement.

200 hours. That’s a huge and somewhat shameful amount of time. You could direct a play in that length of time or have an entire relationship. I know that because those are both things I did when I played the game. What I’m setting myself up for is potentially upwards of 400 hours spent in a single game. Suddenly achievement doesn’t seem to quite cover it.

Note to self: Make sure you back-up your save games.

The fact that this could be both a great personal achievement and a highlight from my gaming history is obviously a bit idiosyncratic – people rate and monitor themselves differently. I know university graduates who are more proud of the time they came 44th place in a downhill mountain bike race than they are of their degree, for example.

Still, it’d be an interesting thing to put your greatest gaming achievement and the best thing you’ve done in the real world side by side and seeing how they compare. I think it would anyway, so drop your comments below and let me know what you are most proud of doing both in and out of gaming – though I can only promise to read them until Throne of Bhaal arrives in the mail.

Oh, and if anyone has any Baldur's Gate tips, recommendations or suggestions about which class to play then sling them in the comments too.
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