Dangerously achievable goals in RPGs

  • Edwin McRae

Shifty shadow lurks in the dark side of the RPG genre, and one of the most dangerous shades is “Achievable Goals”.

Sounds harmless, right? In fact, isn’t it what every motivational speaker on the planet tells you to do? Set yourself achievable goals? Sure is. And that’s what RPGs do.

Cleverly designed RPGs give you short and sweet quests, not-so-secret secret sites to plunder and not-so-bad bosses to slay for the XP and loot drop. Lots to do and most of it comes in bite-sized chunks of about 10-15 minutes of gameplay.

Your sense of progress is so much faster in an RPG. Just think what you can achieve in Diablo 3 in two hours compared to the one hundred and twenty agonizing minutes it takes you to do your monthly tax return or have a full session at the gym.

Compared to most RL achievements, RPG achievements are ‘easy money’. Though you might not have anything but some stats and medals on a game to show for it, leveling up feels like a big accomplishment because the game uses powerful music and animation to make a big song and dance out of it. And that’s what we all want at the end of the day. Sense of achievement, and achievements are only worthwhile if they feel like worthwhile achievements.

We take out first step in life because everyone else is doing it and it seems like ‘the thing to do’. After we fall flat on our face, what makes us take the second step? All those smiles, hugs and skins we get from our parents.


About Edwin McRae

Edwin is a narrative consultant and mentor for the games industry.

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