In their study “What makes a trophy hunter? An empirical analysis of Reddit discussions”, Chien Lu, Jaakko Peltonen, Timo Nummenmaa, Xiazhou Li, from Tampere University, and Zheying Zhang (affiliation not mentioned), researched what trophy/achievement hunters discuss on two different subreddits dedicated to these topics.
As for what trophies and achievements are: According to Lu et al. they are meta-game rewards that effectively gamify the playing process by rewarding the players who complete developer-implemented tasks within a game with collectable achievements that are bound to their profiles.
The results of the study indicated that the trend of meta-game related discussion is increasing, and the meta-game reward systems have an impact on both gameplay itself and social media. The study also revealed the genre of games discussed the most: action-adventure games. This genre includes games such as God of War, Tomb Raider and Uncharted. Also, concerning the differences of types of discussions between /r/Trophies (Playstation focused) and /r/xboxachievements: /r/Trophies had a wider variety of discussions compared to /r/xboxachievements. /r/Trophies not only had discussions relating to trophies themselves but also about emotions (games becoming boring), decision making (should one try and achieve platinum trophy) and the difficulty of obtaining trophies. The latter’s discussion focused more on achievements and achieving them.
The team said that the results from this study, especially the variety of discussion, showcase the attitudes and thoughts towards the meta-game systems. Also, by understanding the behaviour surrounding achievement hunting, it will be easier to design personalised gamification.
The team does note that the research was limited in that it only focused on Reddit. It potentially brought bias because of Reddit’s USA-centric userbase, and as such, in the future, other places of discussion could be utilised and combined for a more categorical analysis.
The study utilised pushshift API to collect data from the specified subreddits’ threads between 2014 and 2019. Topic modelling was utilised to analyse the collected text. In topic modelling, each document gets represented by a mixture of latent topics. This process then leads to basic representations of strength (prevalence of a topic within a document), and vocabulary of topics (common words that are associated with a topic). In the results, the topics were further split between game-related topics (discussion around a game), reward-related topics (congratulating others, earning rewards etc.), gameplay related topics (for example, strategies, bugs in games) and temporal dynamics (grinding and monotony).
Chien, L., Peltonen, J., Nummenmaa, T., Xiaozhou, L., Zheying Z. (2020, April 1–3). What makes a trophy hunter? An empirical analysis of Reddit discussions. GamiFIN Conference 2020, Levi, Finland. http://ceur-ws.org/Vol-2637/paper15.pdf
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Image within article, screenshot taken by the author.
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