Apparently Microsoft has applied for a television-based achievements patent!!!

Watching live TV through the console may become interactive and rewarding. Viewers will be awarded and achievements could be obtained by watching certain TV programs or by interacting with advertisement content using the peripheral  sensor input device Kinect, which reads user movements, gestures and voice commands, this could take place by performing particular gestures or by showing a certain product for get an achievement. Achievements may appear more recurrently since the new Xbox console include  more ways to collect achievements by doing diverse activities.


This news caught my attention for the following reasons but before start; in case you don’t know what an Xbox-achievement is, in short it is a pop up that appears on the screen every time you complete something in the game (a challenge, quest or part). I probably should check my record, I may get surprised.  Click on the image, if you want to hear the achievement sound from the Xbox 360.


First, because currently, I am analyzing gamers’ auditory experiences in GTP and many gamers have reported to hear the “Xbox achievement plonk sound” when they are not playing. If the TV-based achievement patent is successful it seems that gamer may share their auditory  experiences of the Xbox achievement plonk with the whole family!

Hearing ghost sounds is relatively common (although, of course not everybody is susceptible to see or hear things when a stimuli is not present) and probably it is not a big deal, but what if every time that you drink a coke you hear the Xbox achievement plonk!, or what if the sound of the Xbox achievement plonk (either reproduced by the console or in your mind) elicit your cravings for a particular product? Are you sure you would be able to control your urges? Perhaps you will.

If something is clear in the studies about GTP it is that gamers’ visual and auditory experiences tend to elicit thoughts and sometimes these thoughts result in voluntary or involuntary actions and behaviors. Automatic associations between sounds, images and activities. Yes, I am talking about priming which is a very effective technique.

The second aspect which I reflect about is concerns about privacy. I don’t doubt that this may contribute to the gamification of TV watching and encourage competition among gamers. It sounds kind of fun. I maybe even be tented to try. But I am concerned about the amount of information the company will collect about users’ habits. We are no any longer far away from Orwell’s vision! We don’t have enough with cookies when surfing on the web, right! Is it not enough with points cards at stores?, Facebook profiles and likes?

Critical thinking is necessary. How much are the services company apparently provide us “by free” worth if we have to compromise our privacy and become “participative” consumers. In a co-operative society this sounds sweet, but it actually produces benefits for the companies. Certainly, this is not a new thing, we have seen this even in videogames or virtual communities were gamers can create content; Second Life was one where I put my money, hours and hours building in my dreamy virtual land. It was fun.

By the way, have you already bought a Coca-Cola bottle with your name? Personalized marketing… You can also have the pleasure to make free publicity for the company by showing the bottle for your friends or sharing it with the ones you want to know. Fantastic! (I have not be able to find my name. I don’t think my name is among the 150 more popular names in UK ;))

Innovative marketing strategies open many possibilities not only for pure entertainment. Achievements could be won by consuming vegetables or fruit. Although, showing it to the Kinect does not mean you are eating it but if you buy it perhaps you will be tempted to eat it, or even better, an “apple achievement completed” after you munched an apple in front to the Kinect … what about being able to get personalized achievements? What about setting up your own game time per week and getting an achievement for accomplishing your goal? If you keep not getting your reward then at least this may make you aware how much you are playing, wouldn’t it? Users could also track their achievements, compare with others and be aware which type of diet or products they are  consuming. Okay, let me stop with ideas here!

Not sure if everybody will get engaged with the idea about achievements but certainly the sound and the image from the achivement plonk  have popped up at some point in some gamers’ minds.

It seems there is a lot of potential in the achievement strategy. If Microsoft finally get the licenses hopefully the “violation” of privacy (even though with user approval) results in implementation of positive, innovative and healthy initiatives that benefit the population more than just entertainment. Companies have the money, power and the will to do it. Please do not make me wait too long.

If you want to read about the news:

Ortiz de Gortari, A.B. Auditory experiences in Game Transfer Phenomena: An empirical self-report study.

Ortiz de Gortari, A.B. & Griffiths M.D (15-16 July, 2013). Game Transfer Phenomena: How virtual experiences can influence gamers’ interactions outside the game. Social Networking in Cyberspace Conference 2013. Wolverhampton, UK.

Ortiz de Gortari, A.B. & Griffiths M.D (October, 2012). Game Transfer Phenomena: Digitally Induced Altered Perceptions. Paper presented at the ECREA 2012 Conference, Istanbul, Turkey.