The Social and Technical Anatomy of Digital Bodies
Edited By Jaime Banks
Chapter Seventeen: Achievements & Levels: Building Affirmational Resources (John A. Velez)
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Achievements & Levels
Building Affirmational Resources
JOHN A. VELEZ
Even occasional gamers can recall moments of pure excitement after beating a videogame challenge—the thrill of colors flashing, points racking up, or an inventory overflowing. A game’s ability to evoke those feelings of elation after finally overcoming a seemingly insurmountable challenge determines its place among gaming classics. Super Mario Bros. (1985), for example, provides a mix of excitement, relief, and pride after the final jump in a series of improbable leaps to reach the flagpole. The fruit of these achievements, broadly defined here as rewards for completing or making significant progress toward a goal, almost always manifests through a change in an avatar’s appearance, a medal added to an avatar’s trophy room, or a piece of loot dropped into an avatar’s item slot. The various types of achievements earned by players can take on different meanings as they define a game’s experiences and shape players’ memories. In this way, achievements accumulated across avatars and their games are frequently imbued with unique memories and feelings (Wulf, 2016).
Often these achievement-related feelings and experiences come in handy when we are not feeling like our usual selves. For example, beating other racers in Mario Kart Wii (2008) can relieve a bad mood by simply distracting you from its cause (Rieger, Wulf, Kneer, Frishchlich, & Bente, 2014). Bad moods, however, come in all shapes and sizes—a...
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