The "Gaming Generation" is now no longer rife with just teenagers with nothing better to do. This generation now goes to work, have active social lives, have (like me) families, and have some money to spend on their passion for games. And this is where things have changed.
Let me give you an example. As I've said I have made the step from hardcore to regular gamer. I no longer have the time to play lots, but I do have the money to be able to afford games. However with far less time, I won't now just rush out and buy every game that is released. A game needs to appeal to me. And this is where my concept of Achievement Points on the Xbox 360 actually making games better comes from.
When it came out, I bought Lego Star Wars II for the 360. I loved it almost immediately. I played it quite a bit to begin with (and there was stiff competition at the time from Dead Rising and Test Drive Unlimited). I've always been a fan of Star Wars, and can remember many a happy day as a child playing with Lego.
I played through the story mode in the game and thoroughly enjoyed it. However, where the game really comes into its own for me is the free play mode. For those not familiar with it, the story mode follows the story of Episodes four, five and six of the Star Wars story, and you play through each episode with the relevant characters for that chapter in the story.
However, when you get to the free play mode, you can choose any of the characters that you have already unlocked, bringing a new dimension to the game. Areas that were previously out of reach because you needed the force to unlock a particular door are now available for exploration. It's a stroke of genius.
It's while I was playing through the free play mode that I decided I would take a look at the achievement list to see what I might be able to do with the game to earn some Gamerscore points. I noticed a few things that I thought might be fun and so I merrily went off in search of various things.
A few of the achievements relate to how much of the game you have completed (e.g. number of collectible items contributes to this). It was the "Completed 80% of the game" achievement that kept me playing this game (and also the fact that I was really enjoying it). I know that without this, I would only have put in about half of the 25 hours that I actually spent on it. However, those extra 12 hours (which equate to between two and three weeks of time for me) are hours which I now haven't spent on another game. And this is my point.