I had one achievement left in Left 4 Dead: Zombie Genocidest. Kill 53,595 infected. I had made it a goal to kill at least 1,000 a night. It was a very attainable goal, and I was doing very well. I had less than 10,000 to go. Another week and a half, tops, and it would be mine.
However, Halo Wars' release date was looming. I knew, when that came out, I would be cramming in as many hours as I could before the Community Playdate to bolster my skills (not to mention I had been looking forward to that game for a long time). I didn't have 10 days to spare.
I had seen on the internet a technique for racking up zombie kills. It was very simple: it involved coaxing a boomer to the safe room door where he keeps spewing bile on you to call hordes of zombies, standing just close enough so your melee attack hits the zombies through the door, and rubber-banding your controller to hold the melee trigger down. Two days before Halo Wars' release, I did this; and in less than two hours, I got my last 6,000 kills while I was doing other household chores, and "earned" my last achievement.
It's not the first time I've done "peculiar" things for the sake of gamerscore. Even in Left 4 Dead, I got my expert campaign achievements thanks to the "dashboard glitch" (a glitch where accepting a game invitation into the final chapter from the Xbox dashboard tricked the game into believing you had completed the entire game up to that point). Most of my Halo 3 matchmaking achievements come from the cooperation of other players, the original ones earned by setting my console language to Chinese (a technique "achievement boosters" used to find each other). Heck, just about any game that involves finding any number of hidden objects, I have completed by using a walkthrough.
Not that this should come as any big surprise, of course. Guides, cheats, and walkthroughs have been around since games were invented. Even my first Pong game had a "no fail" mode that turned your paddle into a full wall. (Ok, it was technically a "feature" that turned the game into jai alai, but still…)
On the one hand, there is a sense of accomplishment in unlocking an achievement on your own, and I admit to a certain sense of disappointment in getting my last Left 4 Dead achievement with a rubber band when I could've gotten it on my own. (And, to pat myself on the back, I definitely had an ego boost when I played Pac-Man C.E. and earned all 200 points in one sitting, with no outside help whatsoever.)
On the other hand, there is another thrill in being able to game the system, as it were, especially when you have to work with other people to do it. Whether it's as simple as inviting people into my Fable II game to pop the Dollcatcher achievement for them, or as complex as sending players to the dashboard for an invite to glitch some otherwise impossible zombie-surviving scenarios, or as bizarre as setting your console to an unintelligible (to me) language and coordinating with four complete strangers over whose turn it is to kill everyone else with the rocket launcher when your only forms of communication are gunshots and squats — there's a certain sense of satisfaction in pulling together and getting that achievement to pop, whether it's for yourself or someone else.
On the other other hand, for achievements that can be obtained via a walkthrough or other guide, there is a sense of relief of just being able to "finish" a game, to call it "done", rather than having to spend hours searching out that last coin/note/suitcase/black box/key/skull/orb.
And on the other other other hand, it all just reinforces the point that this score really doesn't mean all that much. ;)