A contentious issue within the gaming community is grinding. Although one is not surprised by the fact, it is the reasoning that supports the contentiousness of the issue. Game developers, as a result of overindulging the business model known as games as a service has led to them to deliberately design video games that coerce gamers into purchasing microtransactions for in-game content. This content is unlockable within the game, however, the process is reminiscent of the South Park episode: Make Love, Not Warcraft. This has, unfortunately, led to gamers having an intense aversion and hatred for grinding within video games. However, one must admit that grinding in video games has a necessity, especially when it is devoid of game developers’ monetary-hunger.
To Grind or Not To Grind
Many overlook the specific purpose that grinding serves. A purpose that is so specific no alternatives manage to accomplish what it does. Furthermore, even the removal of grinding from within a game does not solve permanently the problems gamers have with it, as its removal leads to other issues that affect their gameplay experiences more severely.
Games that implement grinding work on one simple premise, assumption. A game with grinding assumes that the player will play the game even if at times they are not in “gaming mood.” This is evident with Massive Multiplayer Online games (MMOs) that feature grind: these games make the correct assumption that players will turn to the game even when they are not wanting (or not able) to play more engagingly. Moreover, if used in such a manner, grinding becomes a fantastic tool for several reasons:
First, it affords players the opportunity to have complete control over how much they play. Upon taking into consideration what constitutes as a “grind.” It is notable that tasks that fall under said category hardly take longer than a minute or so. This is even true in cases with games that do not have a pause feature, as players are able to enter a game and leave at a moment’s notice. Another aspect worth addressing is when players have several free hours of unoccupied time that grinding would manage to make go by much quicker.
Second, grinding more often than not varies the pacing of the game. The gameplay of a game is usually far more exciting when the activity has rises and falls. A balance of pacing often afforded by grinding in a game. This is notable with how the excitement for quests is more palpable and interesting when players spend a reasonable amount of time on quests, think The Witcher 3.
It was mentioned earlier that the removal of grinding from a game can lead to issues that affect gameplay experience severely if it is removed than other gameplay elements, especially the core elements supplement the grind element. The expected also happens if a game has fifty or more quests to do – it makes grinding pointless. Essentially, it all means that in order to maintain the enjoy-ability of a game’s other content is by making it the height of the experience, not the norm.
Final, grinding affords players with options – note the emphasis differentiates it from the first point – to improve. With Pokemon, if a player is having a difficult time defeating a gym leader. They can either overcome their task by playing strategically or simply by grinding to level up. The choice is completely the player’s and it gives them a sense of actual progression that is their own, unlike other games that remove player options for progression.
Interestingly, grinding is an organic gameplay mechanic. Often the player has some choice in deciding on the “grind task” and how they will accomplish their task. This provides players with additional immersion and satisfaction upon completing tasks at a continuously improved rate, not only in terms of their gameplay ability but the rewards coupled with better progression. Simply, these benefits of grinding have to do with one common denominator, player rewarding. Within the context of a game, players do not waste their time since they often are met with a tangible benefit.
Although the above explanations supporting grinding in video games appear heavily RPG-orientated, one must admit that the concept of grinding is universally throughout all genres of video games. It does come across as ludicrous, however, the implementation of the mechanic is not always notable. Fighting games demonstrate this well, as many gamers are unaware that progress in a fighting game is done through them investing time in the game’s training or practice mode. Though it is worth mentioning that there is a major difference between practicing a skill and actual grinding is that one takes effort and the other does not, respectively. Practicing makes performing within a game whether against an in-game opponent or another player much more exhilarating since it becomes the height of the gameplay experience.
Grinding in video games is a contentious issue. It is contentious due to the negative effects of games as a service, a business model that relies heavily on monetization that game developers have become over-reliant on. This has led to them designing games that force gamers to purchase in-game content rather than unlocking it through grinding. However, one needs to admit that grinding within a game is quite necessary since it improves gamers’ gameplay experiences.
Many would probably disagree with what I have said here while others might agree with my stance, thus its necessary to encourage discussion. Let me know what you think down below in the comment section.
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