The GamerTag Series Part 2: Achievement Counselors

These well-paid and professional consultants literally create new identities for gamers, making it possible to open doors and assist in the subtle process of establishing what amounts to "Street Cred" in the world of gaming online -- both on console and PC. With so few meaningful points by which to measure the prowess of strangers, the existing system for judging any gamer not personally known to you invariably requires assessing subjective elements like their Gamerscore, and the specific Achievements or Trophies that they have unlocked in a given game -- the two areas that Achievement Counselor specialize in manipulating.

-- Meet Paul Wieseicki: Professional Achievement Counselor --
When Paul Wieseicki began gaming at the age of 11 in 2005 it was on a used PlayStation 2 that his mother bought him at a tag sale -- a console that by that time was already dated -- though it came with a collection of used games that included a copy of Grand Theft Auto: Vice City, Spiderman 2, Splinter Cell: Pandora Tomorrow, Burnout 3, and Katamari, and for Paul, it also contained an incredible Summer of good times, and great memories.

"I was the only kid in my class with a mom that was cool enough to not only buy me a console when I asked, but to hand me the entire set of games that came with it without judging them either by their title or by what they turned out to be," he explains. "My parents had just separated, we moved to an apartment on the other side of Boston, and I had no friends at first, so that PS2 was like a lifeline for me," he adds.

The purchase of the PS2 was an impulse thing he says; they had been discussing buying him a console when they next visited the grandparents in New Hampshire (where there is no sales tax) when they stopped into a tag sale down the street from their new apartment in early March and found the PS2 with a box of used games, an extra pair of controllers, and an unopened copy of Final Fantasy XI for the PS2, which they bought as well.

"I did not know that the PS2 could have a hard drive," he explained. "Inside the box for FFXI there was a hard drive, and I was stoked! We had a good Internet connection at home because my mom needed it for work, so by the time I was supposed to go to bed that night I had my PS2 humming along, hard drive installed, waiting for the patches to download so that I could have my first online MMO experience ever the following day. It was eye-opening."

Within a month of buying the PS2 at the tag sale Paul had not only mastered FFXI, but was busily farming Gil -- the in-game money in FFXI -- selling that Gil to other players for real-world money and making a nice bit of coin in his own cottage industry.

"I was amazed that people would pay me for the in-game money," he admits. "None of them knew that they were dealing with a 12-year-old kid though, but by the time the official launch of the Xbox 360 took place that November I had managed to earn enough by farming and selling Gil in the game to pay for a brand new Xbox 360, a second controller, and a new TV for my room, so the PS2 stayed on the TV in the living room and I divided my time between the two systems."

It was that first foray into the world of the Xbox and this new thing called Achievements that got Paul started, he says, explaining that by the time the Xbox 360 had launched he already had a group of friends at school who were all anxiously awaiting launch day, though unlike Paul his friends were relying upon their parents to buy the consoles for them. Paul did not have to convince his mother to buy him specific games, he had his own money to do that with, and after he obtained all of the Achievements from the games that he owned, he and his mates would trade their games around so they could unlock more Achievements.

"It was serious competition; we were going at it hard there that first year, and you gotta know that there were more than a few twink games showing up on the Achievement lists of my buddies, but not on mine -- even then I had standards, and I refused to go for the easy points."

A year later one of the gamers that Paul played online with, impressed by his nearly 40,000 Gamerscore, asked him if he would be interested in earning a few bucks unlocking some of the harder to obtain Achievements in a certain shooter for him?

"That was it man, I stopped playing FFXI and farming Gil and I started unlocking Achievements for people. The tougher ones I charged $10 each for, and eventually it reached a point where I had this regular group of customers, and one of them might ask me to get them a perfect 1000 G on a game and they would send me the game and $50 and that was my fee. Other gamers would notice that I had unlocked all of the Achievements for that game on my own Gamertag and it just snowballed from there. Playing the games myself and unlocking all of the Achievements was the best form of advertising ever," he adds.

Posted: 18th May 2012 by CMBF
Xbox 360, Wii, PlayStation 3, PC, XBLA, PSN,