Compliments, team-building, money or free coffee – there are many different ways to increase employee motivation and spur subordinates on to top personal performance. In the case of my former flatmate, who of course was not my subordinate, there was a much simpler way to increase his ambition and incentive immeasurably: trophies. For him, a game was only finished when he had won the platinum trophy. And there was really no shortage of games: Due to my work for a video game magazine at the time, new press samples landed in the mailbox almost weekly, and of course a review had to be written promptly. In order to be able to play extensively during the nights, we cleverly selected our seminars and lectures according to time: Events before 2 p.m. were not an option.
Most of the time, my roommate was still sitting in front of the PlayStation when I came home from university in the evening. From today’s perspective, you could call him a pioneer of distance learning. To this day, I’m surprised that he was able to successfully complete his math studies. Sure, not with a platinum trophy, but who cares in the end. So I sat down with him on the sofa in our kitchen and watched him repeat some sections and challenges countless times – just to fulfill the requirements for the respective trophy. I myself would not have had the guts or, more importantly, the stamina for that. But my roommate’s stoic attitude exuded something almost comforting. He was never upset, angry, or frustrated. Even on the hundredth try, he was calm himself. During loading times, we sipped our beers. There was little talking – a brief eye roll when an attempt failed again due to some imponderable was the highest of feelings. And so sometimes hours passed: I watched and worked on the reviews while he fought for the desired trophies.
During the 2010 semester break, I had enjoyed God of War 3 on my own and praised it to my roommate afterwards. He also had a lot of fun with the game and I had briefed him in advance (without spoilers, of course) that he should never stop pressing the circle button at the end. For 30 minutes. Only then would he be able to unlock the final trophy and complete the game with a platinum trophy. When he finally defeated Zeus, the game switched to first-person perspective. Kratos can now take out all his hate on the father of the gods: When the circle button is pressed, his fist mercilessly shoots into the face of the defeated Zeus. For as long and as often as the player wants to.
After 35 minutes, his patience and strength were at an end. His reaction to the resolution of my bluff, which had just cost him 35 minutes of life, was absolutely worthy of that of a professional trophy hunter: “So stupid that they didn’t include a trophy reward for it.”
Instead of a platinum trophy, the fight with Zeus only resulted in a small note (see cover picture) on the wall of the flat-sharing community. Of course, my roommate still got the platinum trophy later on. In the 2018 reboot of the God of War series, Kratos no longer fights against the gods of Olympus – instead, he now takes on Norse mythology, just like in the sequel that will be released in 2021.
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