Republished on Monday, 28th December 2015: We're bringing this article back from the archives as we look back at some of Push Square's features from 2015. The original text follows.
Originally published on Monday, 24th August 2015: It's a warm yet rainy evening in New Hampshire, but Michael 'Roughdawg4' Sinclaire is uninterested in the weather. He's got a DualShock 3 controller in hand, and his gaze is fixed on a nearby television screen. White Knight Chronicles, the oft-forgotten PlayStation 3 collaboration between Japan Studio and Level-5, is the focus of his attention. He's working on his 887th Platinum Trophy.
"The big challenge with this game is that the online servers are down," he mutters over the on-screen action. "Because of this, the misconception about the game is that you cannot Platinum it, which is not true." He glances away from the screen and shoots us a smile: "It's still possible, just a lot harder."
Despite having a PlayStation Network profile overflowing with envy-inducing achievements, the 32-year-old appears to have met his match. "I'm not sure that I can finish this because the S-Rank Quests are much harder than I anticipated, as you're supposed to have a team. I am, however, determined to beat it." At the time of publication, that coveted Platinum Trophy remains locked.
f you shouldn't judge a book by its cover, then you definitely shouldn't judge a gamer by their Trophy cabinet. We'd been aware of Michael's impressive PlayStation haul for a while, as he's been sat at the top of the PSN Profiles leaderboards for as long as we've been using the website. But given his impressive 99.53 per cent game completion rate, we'd expected a less... rounded character.
As it turns out, Michael is not the unemployed nerd that our prejudices had led us to expect – quite the opposite. "I'm an accounting manager at a bank," he explains. "I've been working at the bank for nine years. I have my MBA for Business Administration and Accounting. I've been working since I was 15-years-old. I never liked getting free money so I always wanted a job to make it on my own."
Our next question is obvious: how does a married man with a full-time job find time to earn 40,000 Trophies in just over six years? "I used to game a lot, but over the last year or two I've toned it down," he laughs. "I would say that on average I play approximately three to four hours a day, with most of the time being played late at night when my wife's asleep."
In fact, despite unlocking an average of just over 16 Trophies a day, Michael admits that his other half isn't even into games in the first place. "I don't play them around her," he jokes. "I don't know, gaming is an easy thing to fit into your life because when you're at your house with nothing to do it's a great time sink."
Of course, time isn't the only factor in this equation. To date, Michael has played over 1,254 games, which sounds like an enormous financial strain. So how does he fund his habit? "My wife and I have very good jobs so we can certainly afford to play games," he says. "However, in honesty, I don't spend that much on gaming and that is due to my website ps3imports.org."
He explains: "On the surface, we have the best collection of imported Trophy guides on the Internet, but underneath the surface is much more. Behind the scenes, we have the biggest collection of Trophy hunters in the world and we all trade or borrow games with each other. By doing this, we've all saved ourselves a ton of money."
ichael may have a very impressive Trophy cabinet, but it's not the biggest in the world. He actually trails Hakoom by 1,766 gongs, and we're eager to know whether this bugs him. "I made it to number one about two to three years ago, but when I was going for the Platinum to Star Ocean: The Last Hope I started falling behind," he points out.
"There's one Trophy that requires you to finish the game in Welsh. Who does that?"
In fact, Michael cites his love of Japanese role-playing games as the reason that he's losing, seeing as they take so long to complete. "I could make a run for first again but it's really not that important to me anymore," he says. "In the past, Hakoom and I didn't talk that much, but a few years ago we buried the hatchet. He's actually active on my site and has written some very good Trophy guides."
But if there's no desire to be top of the pile, then what does Michael get out of his bulging trinket stash? "I always enjoyed completing games and most of the time a Platinum Trophy is like a badge that says I finished this game," he explains. "I love playing just about every type of game. It's always the curiosity of what does this game have to offer and can I complete the game."
"Nobody – not my family or wife – has any idea I'm number two in the world"
Of course, there are drawbacks to Michael's completionist mentality. "When you get hit with glitches or really weird Trophies, it does take away the enjoyment of the game," he continues. "I think that some of the frustrating Trophies are when a game has you play under certain conditions like maintaining stealth throughout or not killing anyone."
He elaborates: "I just finished Resident Evil and some of the playthroughs that you had to beat included only using a knife or all of the enemies being invisible. The weirdest Trophy that I have seen is in Master Reboot. There's one Trophy that requires you to finish the game in Welsh. Yes, that's correct – you have to beat a game in what is likely not your native language. Who does that?"
As our chat comes to an end, we can't help but ponder how Michael perceives the ephemeral nature of his six years collecting virtual cups. After all, Sony could switch off its servers at any second. "I was a completionist gamer before Trophies were around and I will be a completionist after Trophies disappear," he notes. "Trophies are fun and I enjoy getting them, but they don't matter that much to me."
He concludes: "I know that that may sound weird coming from someone ranked number two in the world, but this is the easiest way that I can convey my feelings. Nobody – not my friends, family, or wife – has any idea that I'm number two in the world." But we do, and we can't help but feel a little bit of awe as we leave Michael to turn his full attention back to White Knight Chronicles.