Achievement fever is no longer the plague upon our society that it once was. Back when the Xbox 360 first came out, people went mad trying to collect “achievements”—little digital trophies that each represented the completion of some task pre-determined by the game’s designers—and the Xbox Gamerscore points that accompanied them. At the time, developers weren’t used to such a thing, and lots of games emerged that would give you 1,000 points (the maximum for any given game) in exchange for a just a few hours of breezy play (or, in one infamous case, a few minutes).
Fast-forward to 2014, and achievements are everywhere. They made it to PlayStation consoles (as “trophies”) and the computer-based gaming service Steam, where they’re also just called achievements because why the hell not. The achievement hunger that led players to wade through a sea of crappy movie tie-in games for some digital gold stars has all but faded away.
But over on Kotaku, Patricia Hernandez has written a detailed history of the fervor created by one Steam achievement that no player has been able to unlock. This achievement, a part of Christine Love’s game Hate Plus, is purposefully impossible, a bit of text meant to tease players. And oh boy, did it tease. Players banded together to find a possible way to unlock it. They theorized and tested and dug through the game’s code to no avail. The solution they came up with was a last ditch, brute force effort that might have fulfilled the achievement’s impossible requirements, but it also threatened to rob the game, and the players, of a deeper meaning.