Grind? Not in my house.

I played World of Warcraft, I farmed for materials, I made it to level 70… and then I quit. That was 2 years ago, almost, and tonight I sit here wondering what the heck I was thinking.

It’s not like I didn’t enjoy WoW, I did, it was a fun way to stay in touch with a good friend and my brother while I was living in Edmonton. And to be honest, most of my early leveling was done through quests, and then later I leveled primarily through running instances. The reasons I quit WoW had more to do with time/money-management and my not enjoying endgame PvP, and less with the grind, but once I was done and had the hindsight of a man who has checked his /played and decided: “Never again”.

It was only after my WoW playing that I began to think more seriously about game design. Jonathan Blow shone a light on this when he called grind mechanics “unethical”. Grinding, the act of repeatedly doing a mundane task in game in order to gain experience or items in a safe manner, is a mechanic we associate mostly with MMOs – but it can be found in other games as well.

These days I’m trying to imagine how a designer could ever justify consciously creating (or worse, requiring) grind mechanics in their game. It seems to me that grind mechanics will some day soon feel as anachronistic as old adventure game puzzle design. With so many games out there to play, and the increasing ‘casualization’ of design, why would anyone want to put up with the repetitious dullness of a grind? Seems like a given. You have a ton of fun games to choose from, you notice a game is trying to waste your time, you move onto another game.

Then again, look at the mushroom cloud of facebook gaming that sits just on the horizon, those games seem like nothing but grind – I shouldn’t comment cause I haven’t played more than 20 minutes of MafiaWars, and less Farmville and it’s ilk – but they got the look and feel of what I’d describe as empty calorie gaming, Go onto Kongregate and you’ll find any number of fun little games, yet these really grindy ones become world-beaters (will add a link later, the escapist appears to be down).

… internet is being persnickity, will return later to finish up and maybe make a point!!

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One Response to “Grind? Not in my house.”

  1. Then again, too, there is something to be said about the availability of an infinite, endless task during the dead grey hours of an insomniac between 2 AM and 8AM.

    I think that the biggest reason why I stayed playing WoW for so long was because it gave me something to do when I couldn’t sleep OR think. Which was very often haha.

    I remember just endless AV grinding mindlessly zerging Drek over and over again for hours, got me through some hard long nights.

    But I, like you, can’t imagine doing it again, seems absurd, and I did it a lot longer than you!

    When you see a game like LoL, for instance, which still has that endless task thing to it (getting all the champions, all the runes you need, etc. –pretty endless!) but is not grindy at all, it DOES seem unethical for something like WoW to be the way it is.

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