As I write this article in late February 2016, the Gamerscore on my primary profile, Fryburg84 stands at 173,753. According to Microsoft, the average Gamerscore as of 2015 stood at 11,286, so I guess you could say that I’m a little above average.
I picked up my Xbox 360 and earned my first achievement in June 2006, so I’ve been working on my Gamerscore for quite some time now. Still, when the topic comes up with my friends, they’re amazed by how high my score is, even if they started pursuing that sweet ding of an unlocked achievement around the same time I did.
I’m not sure I can really explain why I’ve been so compelled to boost my Gamerscore over the years. I’ve always played a lot of video games going back to the NES days. I like having the evidence there of games I’ve played, and the pursuit of certain cheevos has always been a fun meta game for me.
And while I admit I’ve put a lot of time into Xbox games over the past decade, I’m not some jobless necbkeard who does nothing but play video games in a basement all day. Since I got my Xbox 360, I’ve graduated from college and law school. I’ve moved across North America and back, and passed the Illinois bar exam. I’ve had a full-time job whenever I haven’t been in school, and I’ve dated pretty steadily throughout that period. I’ve been with my current girlfriend for more than three years now, and she doesn’t even play Xbox very often.
So how did I accumulate such a ridiculously high Gamerscore? Read on to find out…
Choosing Games Carefully Is a Big Help
It’s pretty well-known that Avatar: The Burning Earth has the most ridiculously easy achievement list ever. Apparently the developers had to scrap their original plans for achievements at the last minute and replaced them with five achievements worth 1,000 points that you can rack up in literally less than two minutes. So yeah, I played through Avatar and got my easy 1,000 points, but you can rack up Gamerscore from a lot of other games almost as easily if you know what’s worth playing. On the Xbox One, Forza Horizon 2 Presents Fast & Furious, Halo: The Master Chief Collection and any Telltale adventure game series are easy sources of hundreds of achievement points that only take a few hours to get. Those are all pretty fun games too. Achievement lists telling you whether you can get most achievements from playing through the story of a game or have to log hundreds of hours into painfully tedious side quests are also available online.
To be fair, I have also played some pretty terrible games for a few hundred achievement points. The Amazing Spider-Man 2 and Sacred 3 immediately spring to mind as examples, but those are also shorter games that haven’t taken too long to beat, and I was at least able to squeeze a little bit of fun out of them here and there. If something is truly terrible, I’ll just stop playing it and trade it in for something else, like with Eat Lead: The Return of Matt Hazzard. I got about 300 points from that game, and then got rid of it after a few levels because I just couldn’t deal with how terrible it was anymore. But as a bonus of achievement hunting, playing through so many games is also a good way to find real gems that were unfairly maligned by critics. For example, I had a lot of dumb fun with Ryse: Son of Rome and Lost Planet 3, but the professional reviews would make you think those games are mediocre at best.
Buy! Buy! Buy! But be Smart About It
Yes, gaming is an expensive hobby, but not nearly as expensive as you might think. By now I have such a large collection that I tend to trade stuff in in bulk. You can actually get a couple bucks from Gamestop if you bring them 20 games at once. I’m also pretty careful about sales and rarely buy a new game for $60. Even digital games I rarely pick up at full price. Pretty much everything can be found for at least half price after a few months, and usually even less than that in the case of digital games, so it’s easy to build up a backlog full of achievement-rich games quickly. I also monitor sites like Cheap Ass Gamer for deals, which makes it even easier to find stuff on sale.
Of course, for the ultimate in cheap asses, there’s also Games with Gold and the growing collection of free-to-play games on Xbox One. I actually haven’t spent too much time with a lot of these games, but like anything else, if you look up the achievement list online first, it’s pretty easy to figure out how to play through the game as fast as possible to get most or all of its achievements.
Plan Your Playtime Accordingly
I actually don’t have a lot of free time, at least not nearly as much as you would think someone with a 173,000 Gamerscore would have. Who knew that being a lawyer (and freelance writer on the side) actually takes up a lot of time, right? That being said, I try to figure out a couple days ahead when I’m going to have a few hours with nothing to do, or block out a bunch of time on the weekends to tackle certain games. I’m going to be done with work early one night? Great, time to bust out Transformers: Rise of the Dark Spark and power through the campaign for a couple hundred points before I have to go to bed at midnight. The girlfriend and I don’t have anything to do this Saturday and I’ve actually finished all my articles for the week? Perfect! Time to pick up Fallout: New Vegas again and get through some side quests for a few points. Just like everything in life, boosting your Gamerscore is about time management.
Think Outside The Xbox
Some people might think that having such a high Gamerscore is kind of embarrassing, but I don’t think so. It’s a hobby I enjoy no worse than any other (and science says it may actually make you smarter). I’m not ashamed of that. I even have a logo of the EA tattoo on my back. I am, however, mildly embarrassed that I’ve previously owned three different Windows Phones. And yes, the whole reason I got these phones was for the achievements. Even though support has been abysmal for the platform, and it’s nearly dead in the U.S., there are still more than 100 games on it, and some of them, like Collpase and Temple Run 2, give out achievements almost as easily as Avatar: The Burning Earth. I wouldn’t recommend a Windows Phone as a primary phone (I’m a proud Android man nowadays), but if you really want to pick up some easy achievements with one on the side, they can be had for about $50 on Amazon right now.
Similarly, the Windows Marketplace on Windows 8 and 10 is full of Xbox-enabled versions of games like Angry Birds, Dungeon Hunter 5, and Despicable Me: Minion Rush. Most of these games are free or just a few bucks, making them great sources of quick and cheap achievements. And they’re actually pretty decent games in small bursts.
So if anyone is wondering how I racked up more than 170,000 achievement points while maintaining something resembling a real life, and wants to do the same that about sums it up. And if I can do it as busy as I’ve been over the past decade, then you can do it too.
Or go pick up another hobby like hiking or fishing.
What do I know? I’m just a dude who plays too many video games, not Dear Abby.
Article by Chris Freiberg