The arduous fight for better stats in video games – “Grinding“. A practice that typically doesn’t progress the story but often unlocks abilities that you need to advance the story. Some think it to be one of the most fun parts of the game while others find it to be completely unnecessary and annoying. I believe that it’s absorbing looking into why we feel rewarded or for that matter if we feel rewarded for grinding.
Now, for the question why do we grind in video games, well there’s a very simple answer. Having higher stats makes the game a little bit easier when you get to harder parts but that’s not the full answer is it? Mechanically that’s the complete answer. Yeah, I would much rather have higher stance when I go into the boss battle. But I think that were the only reason it would almost never be accepted. From a game design perspective, you want to do things that keep the game interesting to people. And if mechanically speaking, all you’re doing is just doing the same thing over and over again, performing the same final fantasy fight in the same area of the world map with the same enemies getting the same amount of experience points, gradually slowly building up. I’m sure some people would find that to be great I for one enjoy the final fantasy battle systems over the years, but I will say even I have a limit. So how exactly is a franchise like Final Fantasy able to break that limit? Oh yes, “Final Fantasy reference”. Why exactly do people even sit down and say – “Oh yeah fine I’ll do this for however long they want me to do it.” Because let’s be very clear there are some games, many popular games, that ask you to grind at some point. Not every game out there is a Gears of war, or an Uncharted, or a super Mario 3d land, or a Bayonetta, just something that continually moves forward something that makes grinding completely and utterly optional. Now that’s a list of great games, but there are also a lot of great games that specifically require are you to sit down and grind for a long time to get anywhere. And that goes for single-player narrative games to competitive multiplayer games.
Why is Grinding Bad in Video Games?
But where there are good ones that asked you to do it they’re also bad ones, and I want to talk about the bad ones first, specifically why it’s bad. The main reason grinding in a game is not okay is because the mechanics of the game are not good. Nine times out of ten if you have a game where you think the mechanics are ok, and you’re asked to grind that’s when the game stops being an ok game. Especially if you’re enjoying the narrative aspects of the game in a single player situation. in a multiplayer situation. Obviously, you’re just stuck, and no one likes being stuck. So I go ahead and say that even though the aspects are probably more embedded in a competitive multiplayer situation where you might be used to them they might be more normalized to you, it can go self much quicker then it can if there’s a compelling narrative at least. However, the interesting story can also prove to have a bad contract if the grinding is born.
And I’m not going to say I haven’t played a bunch of JRPGs where I thought the battle system was subpar, but I enjoyed the story, and frankly, the combat system and grinding aspects of the game did not deter me from playing them because I was engrossed in the story. But my opinion of those games probably would be a lot better if there was no grinding. At the same time imagine Pokemon go if you could join a gym before level five. No, it most certainly did not deter the majority of players. But I have to imagine there at least a few people who don’t have time to get the level five to do the interesting part of the game and let’s be clear I don’t find Pokemon go that interesting until level five and my friends that are a perfect example of grinding. There’s a lot of reasons why somebody might not want actually to do the grinding aspect of a game is time-consuming it is not necessarily the most exciting thing you’ve ever done in your entire life. And it does take a level of dedication that you might not want to give, especially if like I said the game itself is not that wonderful.
What makes grinding enjoyable?
Well, games that do it well have good mechanics for one like I said I enjoy the final fantasy battle systems through the years, and I’ve spent countless hours grinding in those games when it was unnecessary to do. I mean there are places that where it certainly plays necessary, but I would do it one way or the other. I would happily stay in a place a little bit longer than I needed to have slightly higher levels. Combining the proper mechanics with the world that I like in the lovely places that I saw on the characters that I was spending time with and most importantly the cause that fictionally(apparently) I was feeling that I was participating in made me feel compelled to be the best at what I could do. At least within reason and made me feel like I was part of something in some way. If you’re playing an RPG whether the JRPG or western RPG where you’re meant to embody that character in some way shape or form if you’re immersed you feel like you’re doing something that affects the world. And if you are properly engaged in that respect and the mechanics are not annoying because if the mechanics are boring it doesn’t matter, if you’re immersed in the narrative in some way you’re probably going to feel some responsibility on some level even if it’s just a little one to do good. That’s what games are supposed to be doing they are meant to be motivating you on some level to do good at the game.
Then there’s the idea that the next plot might involve you needing to be better. I’m a final fantasy nerd, but let’s bring up Borderlands 2. You’re not required to do a massive amount of grinding in that game by any means. However you feel like you’re in that world because it seems real on some level, people are relatable the story is interesting and yes it’s goofy, and it kind of absurd us. But you feel for what’s going on there, and you feel like you want to assist in some way, and that compels you to say I’m going to do this the right way, I’m going to go into this prepared. To take that feeling into the multiplayer arena why do you grind in multiplayer? Well, you’re part of a team other people are relying on you. Obviously, the situation is not life or death, but you can affect other people score and therefore affect their level. And you may not be the best player that’s ever played, but you want to play as good as you can because hopefully on some level you do give a shit about the people that you’re playing with. I mean, after all, you share something in common you both like this game depending on the game that could mean a lot. Some games have a lot of philosophy attached to them and some games don’t. But the point is you’re playing with other human beings, and if you’re not just an ass, you probably want to help out your fellow human beings on some level. After all this world isn’t one that we can control. A lot of the time we feel powerless outside of video games and inside of video games we can feel as though we have done something good, even though it may not massively affect somebody’s life an assist here a save there. It may register low on the emotional meter, but he’s helping. And it’s not just explicitly competitive shooters or mobile games you may spend a lot of your time on an MMORPG alone grinding, but when you participate in a raid, you’re contributing. And on some level, it does matter how much work you put into the game and not just yourself but to other people.
So why do we grind in video games? Well, I think they’re two answers to that.
If the grinding is bad at the mechanics are bad if it just seems tacked on, then it’s probably there to make the game look like there’s more to do, which is a cheap tactic. Games that do that, really don’t deserve a lot of recognition, and they typically don’t get it.
But why grinding is good for gamers?
It’s because we feel like we’re part of something, and we want to be the best version of us in that situation. Grinding is always going to be an aspect of video games, whether it’s single player or multiplayer. Entirely narrative games exist, but that’s a genre, that the preference, that’s taste. As long as there is an aspect of the game requires you to gain experience on some level there’s going to be some point of grinding. But if it’s good it doesn’t seem arduous, and if it’s great, it doesn’t look like it’s happening.
What do you think how often are you frustrated with grinding and what games bug you the most? Let’s meet the comments I’d love to read your input on that.