A virtual or physical representation of having accomplished something. These are often viewed as rewards in and of themselves.

Examples: a badge, a level, a reward, points, really anything defined as a reward can be a reward.

(Source: SCVNGR Playdeck)

World of Warcraft has over 1320 achievements:

Adrian Chan posted additional comments on Achievements:

(Note: His full comments to the SCVNGR list are found on his blog linked below.)

Achievement is but one of the relations users form to reward representations. In fact, achievement-reward is tautological. It belongs to the very definition of reward that it proves achievement.

At stake is how does the user relate to the representation. Note that these involve relations not captured as achievement, but having meaning for the user nonetheless. Also note that the meaning of these for users may be social: they are a reflection of the user’s sense of his/her social position, status, rank, membership, etc — all of which are validating but which bestow meaning not just for reasons of achievement. In fact some of the highest forms of validation result from receiving gifts, from recognition by peers, and other attributions obtained not from direct achievement but from indirect acknowledgment by community.

  • The user may identify with it: user is a winner, a mayor, an expert, number 1.
  • The user may feel s/he possesses it: the representation is a thing, a quality, an attribute of personality, a sign of social status, a symbol of membership, etc.
  • The user may identify with the group the representation symbolizes: the user now feels a sense of membership and belonging, as in a fan-team insignia relation.
  • The user may want it or aspire to it: the user relates to a reward because it represents an image of what the user wishes for, including wishes to be perceived as. Luxury goods represent social status to individuals, allowing them to feel “rich” even if they are not.

Achievement is an accurate description of one type of activity-response relation, but only one. It misses the social dimensions of partnered and social play (two or more players). It misses the motivations associated with beating an opponent, and fails to distinguish between the “reward” of beating one’s own game play vs beating the game. It assigns too much of the experience to a linear and direct outcome of individual activity, where in social gaming much of the pleasure and motivation comes from activity mediated by social perceptions and dynamically changing social orders.

(Source: Gravity 7, Adrian Chan)


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