I don’t read Gamasutra much anymore, mostly because I find half-baked ideas that either frustrate me or make me feel insecure and insignificant. Recently, though, a friend of mine linked to a link to this. It narrows down the desire to collect items and achievements to one of two drives: either you’re OCD, or you really enjoy bragging.
But I believe there is a softer, deeper desire that was not explicitly touched on. The desire to be valued, and the desire to express out value to a society which we feel we deserve to be a part of. If I am on Steam, people can look at what games I’ve played, for how long, with what achievements, and what I am playing now… Or the last time I was even online. We want to appear appropriate to the Steam community, having played the “good” commercial games, the “best” retro games, and the “coolest” indie games. Even if we don’t explicitly try to wear our choices as a badge of honour, it’s still all there, comparing us with our fello Steam buddies.
On the other hand, sometimes we just get achievements because wee like a challenge 😉