Wednesday, June 29, 2011

A sad tale

I suppose this isn't so much a sad tale but rather more of a realization that as a parent my habits can be easily, unknowingly, be passed down to my kids.

I finished LEGO Harry Potter this morning.  I realize that the game is over a year old but I finally got around to getting the platinum on the game this morning.

I had rented it when it first game out to write a review for a site (which never published it--grumble grumble) but never got the chance to clean up the last 6 or so trophies I needed for the plat.

My son borrowed it from my nephew the other day and discovered something that is the reason for this post.

When we played the game last year, my son was basically on the way to getting his first plat.  He loves all things HP, and of course LEGOS.  In game he is at 98% complete but only 69% complete as far as trophies go.

He plays on his own profile, and when I was starting to have lots of issues with my original PS3 back in the fall last year I created a PSN account for him so that I could make sure his trophies were saved.  He is autistic but most of the time (through lots of therapy) you'd never know it but there some things that really highlight his autism.  He is very cute when he plays a game and earns a trophy.  His immediate instinct is to have me to log him into the PSN (I intentionally keep the password not saved so that he doesn't play online all the time and add randoms) so that he can see his progress meter increase with any and all new trophies he earns.

He was very excited to get the HP disc from his cousin so that he could finish getting the 100% and see about finishing up for the platinum.  While at work I got a chat from him the other day saying something was wrong.  He kept telling me that the game was showing he was at 0% for trophies.  I told him that when I got home we'd figure out what was the problem.

Of course the second I got home he was anxiously waiting for me to sign him in and sync his trophies.  Sure enough the HP trophies reverted back to 69%.  So we went into the game and started his save.  The game then popped up on the screen a message that took the wind out my sails and basically destroyed my son.  The message stated that the save was not from his profile and so trophies were disabled.

I tried to explain that even though I backed up all of our saves before swapping to the new PS3 some games were a little more finicky about profile names and game save.  I told him that if he wanted to earn any more trophies he would have to delete his save (which again was at 98% complete) and start over.  His face sunk and he shrugged and then said "Maybe some other time."

Now I can understand why Sony wants to protect the trophy platform and keep it from being gamed by folks who would just trade saves to boost their levels, but what kills me is the fact that I backed up all of the saves for all of the profiles using the native XMB tools and restored using the native XMB tools and this still happens.

This isn't the first game that this has happened to him either.  He had earned his A class license in Burnout Paradise but the save wasn't recognized for him after we got the new PS3 and so he has to start all over again (which is a depressing notion from my point of view--I can't imagine what it must feel like for a 10 year old autistic kid).

I guess I'm just posting to vent a little bit about the trophy system and the hidden negatives that most people don't see.  I just wish there was a way for me to be able to keep the saves (in the future) so that he doesn't run into this problem again.  I makes me sad when a hobby that my son and I both enjoy dishes out a bit of a bitter pill to swallow.  What makes it worse is that the pill is only for my son, who is the last person I want to see hurt (well--I don't want to see my other kids hurt either).  I'm not sure if my son will delete his save and start over.  He has slowly started over in Burnout and the fact that LEGOS and Harry Potter are the bees knees to him, I think he might.  Call me a bad parent for wanting him to play games, but I'd rather see him happy doing something that isn't destructive to others and gives us a connection that will remain through both of our lives.


  1. Maybe now he'll start playing games for the intrinsic fun in them (or abandoning them for the lack of it) rather than being excited about a meaningless statistic. Games can sometimes be great art, but these systems are often not helping that cause.

  2. A valid point for sure. At the same time I don't expect/force my kids to play games just for the sake of artistic merit.

    Games are an escape. I just find the meta-trophy hunting to be a bit of a bonus that has triggered a want in my son. I don't think it will keep him from playing games, if anything it may dampen his desire to play games solely for the nonsensical trinkets.

  3. "Games are an escape". Exactly. I find fault with the trend of associating games with achievement. Of course we as adults can discern more meaningful achievement, such as academic excellence, from the "every kid gets a trophy for showing up for t-ball" kind, but the differences may not always be apparent to a child.
    As for whether video games should have these things, I say to each his own-- but, as an example, I'd rather not have achievements in New Vegas. In a game with a deep world that is the epitome of "escape", such things feel frivolous and distracting. I feel different about achievements as implemented in iOS Death Rally, as they helped expand a fairly shallow game.