The Grinding Mindset

Leveling Restoration… Well that brings back memories

Something that video games, especially those in the RPG genre, have difficulty with is the idea of ‘Grinding’. For those not in the know grinding in games is essentially doing a repetitive task or level/mission over and over for some kind of reward. This can be in the form of EXP, unlocking something new or even just advancing in the story. For many grinding in a game is considered bad design and is used to pad out the runtime of a game in leu of actual inventive game design or challenge.

Many games are guilty of implementing large amounts of grind into their primary gameplay loop. MMO’s in particular are notorious for this as many of them simply tell you to kill X number of enemies or collect X amount of something with no real story incentive other than to force you into combat and keep playing to increase retention. Many single player RPG’s too force you to do something like this so you can be of an appropriate level to take on tougher challenges such as many of the Final Fantasy games, Pokemon, and even my beloved Octopath Traveller is guilty of this.

I bring this subject up because I have been spending a good 6 hours or so collecting the resources and blueprints necessary to unlock a new character to play as in Warframe and it’s just as tedious as it sounds. Luckily due to being a veteran with a lot of resources the grind isn’t quite as horrible as it would be to some but regardless it’s still a tedious mess of a system that takes far too long to actually get to the good content. Many games do this purely to keep you playing and get you addicted to the primary gameplay loop in order to get access to rare things or simply just do the one thing that game is based around. A bit like Cookie Clicker but without the hint of satire that protrudes from that game.

Many amazing games completely ignore going into grindy gameplay and instead restructure their content so players will naturally be at the correct level or skill requirement at any point so that they can take on a challenge without feeling the need to go back and get more EXP. Lisa: The Painful, a game I hold very dear in my heart, is an excellent example of this as no fights in the game outwardly require you to go back and fight weaker enemies to be at the right strength requirement, you just continue along the story and the pace is governed by your party members rather than the skills that each individual character has at that time. It’s a great way to do it and while it may be a short experience compared to many RPG titles it still holds the pace expertly and allows the story to take the front and centre stage.

So how do I feel about grinding personally? Honestly I’m of course not a fan but I’m ok with doing it as long as I know the reward at the end will be worth it and I have something else to distract me like a podcast or a youtube essay. They’re essentially non-gameplay parts of a game as I zone out and just focus on something else while my hands go into autopilot mode and play the game without me having to concentrate any brain power into doing the actions that I do. If grind does have to exist in a game I feel that’s the best way to handle it, but otherwise I would rather it didn’t exist at all.

What are your opinions on grinding in games? Do you find it fun and if so let us know why that’s the case! That’s all for now, and as always. It’s not just a game, It’s a Life.

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