What's with all this damned positivity currently afflicting the achievement scene? 'Kudos on this'. 'Congrats on that'. 'Great job kid, you earned it!' Pah! Whatever happened to the scorn, the negativity, the barely-conceived envy and the outright ridicule? Why, we're raising a generation of entitled brats here! People who put the work in and receive their just rewards, but have it all so easy that they never really learn anything. It's madness. Madness, I tell you! You know what's an even more powerful teacher than success? Failure. What we need are games that don't just bestow accolades for success, but highlight the cost of messing up, and rub it right in. What we need are some juicy, mean-spirited anti-achievements.
With that in mind, I've conjured up 12 potential accolades that no one would ever, under any circumstances want to call their own. But perhaps, you know, would maybe really need from time to time. In fact there's a good chance you've already earned most of them. Enjoy.
Your controller ran out of charge, causing you to die (-15G)
Remember in the bad old days when mobile phones would just quietly run out of charge? Sure, it might've sucked, especially if you were waiting on a particular call or hadn't yet phoned in your list of ransom demands, but hey, at least the damn thing didnt spend 3 hours prior to meltdown taunting you at every turn. The problem with the modern breed of endlessly repeating battery reminder is that the user invariably ends up ignoring it. It's an idle threat, the kind that a pleasant schoolteacher might make to their class, but would sooner orally consume an entire detention pad than ever actually pursue.
Modern devices cling to that last drop of power like a cat grasping on to anything that isnt a water-filled sink. In a way, we've become used to calling technology's bluff. Sadly, game controllers, like any device, will eventually dry up, and when that happens there's usually a good chance you're going to die. Of course, even if your console has the good grace to pause the game, there's no guarantee you'll be able to reorient yourself in time. Unlucky. I guess you should've just changed that battery. Maybe later
Invite friends to party chat, no-one turns up (-10G)
Talk about a gut punch. Mike Tyson has delivered less damaging blows than this. Just imagine it. Sending out a mass of invites only to receive a symphony of silence in return. It'd be like finding out there's a big party going on and you're the only one not invited, only to then turn up anyway and see everyone's stabbing a set of you-shaped voodoo dolls. Ok, so maybe that last comparison got a little too specific, but it was a traumatic 16th birthday for me, so be nice.
The difficulty here comes with deciding just how massively unpopular you really are. Did everyone just get together over the weekend and decide that you're now a massive douche, or did they somehow expect to be the only party not to answer, thereby getting lost in the shuffle? Whatever the real reason may be, having your contacts give you the cold shoulder is never fun, but there is an important lesson to be learned about self-reliance here. Probably. Either way, it's probably best you keep this lifetime low to yourself, okay big guy? But have a massive, unmissable, nigh-undeletable achievement to go with it. Just so you remember.
Crafted a fantastically ugly avatar by mistake (Vomit-Green Trophy)
'U-G-L-Y. You ain't got no alibi. You ugly'. Powerful, inspirational stuff, I'm sure you'll agree, though I'm not so certain that bit about the alibi would actually stand up in court. Anyhoo, let it never be said that the tatty, throwaway pop music of the early 2000s lacked the intellectual clout of a Frederic Jameson or an Aristotle. Aside from kickstarting the second intellectual renaissance, the above quote also happens to sum up a very particular problem in gaming. A phenomenon you might term 'Frankenstein syndrome' - or the complete rejection of an utterly effed up creation.
You see, the problem with most modern 'create-a-character' engines is that they dont really offer you much insight into how your malformed man or women will really appear within the context of the world itself. You might think you've done a decent enough job in isolation, but then bam - the other folks roll in and you're Dobby the House Elf's ugly stepsister. So much effort for such a stomach churning outcome. If that's not worthy of an anti-achievement, to encourage more effort and pride in your appearance, I don't know what is.
Fired your ultra-powerful attack and missed (Poo-Brown Trophy)
There's a very real set of neuroses associated with the use of special weapons in games, and they go a little something like this 'Just how rare is this item?'/'Will I ever get more ammo?'/'Should I fire it now, or save it for later?'/'Will the game end before I have the chance?'. Oh, and don't forget the ultimate in weaponised low blows, 'What if the boss monster winds up proving invulnerable anyway?'. Wait, did I just say 'ultimate'? Well maybe not quite, for you see the true scale of disappointment is topped by another, altogether more facepalmy feat of failure.
While loosing a premium-grade power-up at an uncaring enemy may suck the big one, just imagine the sheer, inescapable despair that accompanies firing your payload at thin air. Yes reader, you've missed, and after all that time spent lugging said weapon around, making do and forsaking the necessities, only to piss it all away on a nearby tree, or perhaps a boulder. Your foe moved, and you didn't. Your shame is complete. The bards shall henceforth sing songs of your great stupidity. Enjoy the trophy. And next time, be more careful with your favourite toys.
Died within spitting distance of the next checkpoint (-5G)
Who says that movie clichs belong solely on the silver screen? Why, video games are chock full of these sorts of tired, second-hand tropes. Directors make 'em and developers ape em, that's just how it is. Except some clichs tend to turn up of their own accord, like a pungent ex-friend at a dinner party, and yes, if you're reading this, Tom, I really should have called ahead, and washed, and maybe not verbally abused all those kindly old pensioners. But enough about me. The clich in question is that of the 'wounded warrior dying within inches of his goal'. It certainly sucks to see it up on screen - after all you're rooting for this person to get their vengeance/make it back home alive - but it becomes almost unbearable knowing it's all your own fault.
Dying within spitting distance of your goal - or worse yet, just as the next stage is looming - is a fairly common occurrence in gaming, but a worthy anti-achievement nonetheless. Nothing so consumes us with white hot rage as being told we were almost worthy. Here's hoping this imaginary trophy will soften the blow. Or at least teach you to become truly worthy.
Ran out of space for your character name (-15G)
Is there anything worse than besting an arcade game only to run out of spaces on the name entry screen? Well, world hunger for one, but that's beside the point. It's little wonder that so many players turn to profanity in order to express their feelings of outrage. "What's that, I can't have my totally regular name of Hezekiah? Well how about 'ASS'! Hahaa!" In any case, this irksome little issue has somehow managed to survive the slow, sad death of the arcades and still shows up today, albeit in slightly modified form.
You see, despite having more memory to throw around than an elephants-only trapeze team, some modern games still deign to place restrictive character limits on their user names. How, I ask you, am I to express my true, inner self in only 18 characters or less!? Will the world ever learn to love a gaming god by the name of 'EveryoneButMeIsShi'? And why does Microsoft insist on limiting my 'BigHarmlessScunthorpeFan' tag to only 16 spaces? This anti-achievement goes out to anyone who ever thought up a clever gag or fantastic pun, only to find themselves denied their moment of wordy majesty. Stay strong brothers. And be a bit more concise with your wit next time.
Tried every possible puzzle solution but the right one (Dunce Cap Trophy)
Who needs logic when you can just spin, snap and twist things around until they start to make sense. And no I'm not talking about medieval torture techniques, though some video game puzzles can prove equally horrific. This hard-headed methodology is reserved specifically for those kinds of players who simply cant be bothered to engage in a bit of thoughtful reasoning. They're here for the shooty, jumpy, screamy stuff, not the boring old homework. While some make a lifelong habit of this trial and error approach, many more methodical gamers will also admit to taking this tack themselves, at one point or another. Perhaps you did it out of tiredness, or laziness. Or maybe you just couldnt solve that puzzle any other way.
This anti-trophy belongs to anyone who ever embraced chance, and received nought but a hammer-strength pimp slap in return. There were 48 possible combinations and you managed to mess up a whopping 47 times. Kudos. In a way, what you just did is astounding, so here, have an accolade on me. But for the love of God, learn an important life lesson from it. Namely that thinking is what awesome people do.
Finish in last place after leading all race (Piss Jug trophy)
You can bet that if anti-achievements were really a 'thing' some folks would spend an ungodly amount of time collecting them. After all, even coming dead last at something is still oddly impressive. Look at it this way: you alone were the absolute best at being the worst. That's practically the foundation of every reality TV show ever produced. If this were opposite land, you'd be a golden god, a golden god with his skin on the inside, crawling about on the ceiling, but a golden god nonetheless. But of course, just because anti-achievements celebrate a whole lot of dross, doesn't mean they should necessarily be easy to nab.
Take this next task, for instance. Leading an entire race, only to finish in last place. That'd be pretty difficult, especially if other players were out to snag the same trophy. The format would likely prove equally tough in other genres. Just imagine nailing 99% of a combo, or buggering up that final note on Rock Band. Not so simple, is it? Doing everything right, only to muck up at the finale, is in a phrase 'manhood crushing'. May this trophy bring you peace. Or at least give you a taste of a frustrating gaming anguish so great that you'll resolve never to experience it again. Stay focused.
Die after falling a pitifully small distance (Steam achievement)
Fall damage must be an awfully tricky beast to tweak. Set it too high and you risk discouraging further exploration, forcing players to make inch perfect traversals ala the original Tomb Raider. Err just a smidgen and it's goodnight pointy-chested heroine, hello mammary implant annihilation. Sir Isaac Newton - one, your shattered cadaver - nil. Of course, by setting the slider too far in the other direction, developers also risk creating an overly floaty, ungrounded and therefore unrealistic adventure. "I am the human Space Hopper", you would shriek. "Feel the wrath of my wobbly skull udders".
This particular anti-achievement goes out to anyone who's ever been bludgeoned by the cruel curb-stomp of gravity. Perhaps you've fallen a piddling distance only to explode unceremoniously at the bottom. Or maybe you've misjudged your remaining health count, before liquefying entirely upon impact. Whatever the case, there's a fair bet you've all earned this unwanted achievement, so wear it with pride, why dont you? Or, yanno, shame. Lesson: Be aware of both your abilities and limitations, and leverage both wisely.
Accidentally input a command after frantically skipping a cutscene (-30 Points)
"Gah! Load damn you! I have things to do, people to see, knock-off erotic novels to write! 50 Shades of Puce anyone? I'll be damned if I'm going to sit here and stare at another load-covering cutscene, some fancy bit of barely-disguised tech aimed at fooling me into thinking I'm not just sitting around staring at oh no no, no, no! BASSSSSTARD! No, I didn't mean to press that, I was just trying to hurry up the transition. I wasn't ready! DAMN YOU GAME, DAMN YOUR BLACK HEART!"
Sound familiar? It should. We've all been there. Hammering on the gamepad, trying to initiate the next phase of a game, only to have the next stage load up sooner than expected and accept our mindless inputs. It's like cracking a joke on a game show and being told that it counts as your final answer. It hurts, every single time, but we might as well try to see the fun in it right? Or at least learn a stern lesson in patience. Either way, pointless achievements for all!
Ruin a scripted (and downright special) moment (-10G)
You've got to admire the simple faith that some studios have in their clientele. Take, for example the scripted sequence, an important milestone in any title that typically appears to advance the narrative or present context for a future objective. Way back when, the vast majority of these sequences would almost certainly have occurred via cutscene. Nowadays, however, the Half-Life model of in-play exposition is increasingly prevalent, to the point where some sequences that really ought to be cutscenes aren't. By giving the player a small measure of control over these key moments, developers not only invite tomfoolery (the worst kind of foolery) but also the possibility of us mucking everything right up.
Case in point, the iconic ride into Mexico from Rockstar's Red Dead Redemption. Performed 'correctly' this sequence is scored by Jose Gonzalez' haunting rendition of 'Far Away', but when left up to me well let's just say that my attempt at crossing the border wasn't without incident Alright, I fell into a river and was shot dead by bandits. This anti-achievement recognizes similar displays of excellence in the field of ruining scripted sequences. It's a gift, really. Seriously, if something profound and/or beautiful is happening, just go with it.
Killed by the weakest enemy in the game (-15 Points)
Like an angry mob with commitment issues, video games continually flit between a state of Davidian weakness and Goliath-like strength. One moment you'll find yourself cast as the underdog, struggling to surmount a foe ten times your size, and the next you'll be cracking the skulls of a thousand tiny chipmunks, giggling churlishly as you go. From mangy mutt to thoroughbred champion, battlefield blemish to boss-like brute, the hero's journey is full of such dichotomies, and often within the very same fight.
You're expected to crush the grunts, just like you're expected the lose to the bruiser at the back, at least once or twice. But what about when you accidentally conspire to die at the hands of the former, ten-a-penny lightweights? Humiliation, that's what. This little accolade both celebrates and lambasts those shameful moments when we all take our eyes off the prize to get a better look at ourselves in the mirror, forgetting the simple lesson that with a bit of focus and concentration, David did indeed bash Goliath's brains out.
Bizarro world award
That's just about all we have time for this view from the other side of the mirror, but feel free to suggest some anti-achievements of your very own in the comments box below. The more soul destroying the better, naturally.
Looking for more failtastic content? Check out The Top 7... Most ambitious flops in gaming (opens in new tab) and Game Over screens that really rub your face in it. (opens in new tab)