The Grind

No not THAT grind, the gaming grind. No not THAT gaming grind either. Stop going there perverts.

As a devoted gamer, while I have my favorite games to play – mostly online, I don’t understand how so many creative people who work in the gaming industry cannot get past the generic repetitive leveling grind.

Day One: You start your new character at that ever famous Level one. You run over to whatever NPC with a grammatical expression above their heads and talk to them. “Yo there little one that is so strong, think you can help me out?”

So you go kill 5 rats, because that’s supposed to help the city from being infested or maybe the strange NPC is trying to make a rathide coat – no matter. You go off with your free sword, staff or whatever crappy stuff you get for free and after narrowly escaping rabies, you manage to finish your task. All the while, your experience bar is going up so quickly and you think to yourself, “Wow leveling isn’t so bad at all here.”

With a quick trip back to the happy NPC, you are now Level two and the NPC is forever in your debt because those 5 rats you just killed saved the town from being infested with them. Within 10 minutes you are now Level two and have 10 copper to your name and maybe a better stick – if lucky.

Approximately 1-2 hours later you are now Level 8-10 and love how quickly everything has gone. The NPCs love you for all your servitude, the town doesn’t have a rat, beaver or funny named insect that you would cry if you saw one in real life – of course it would weigh 20 lbs. But work in the morning, so you decide you will continue your fun the next night. You have dreams of rats and an NPC that keeps on requesting you to find your missing socks but no matter how hard you try you cannot complete the quest.

You rush home from work because you want to see how far you can get before dinner is cooked. Hmm, it’s not going as quickly as it was last night and that NPC that loved you so much has suddenly snubbed you because you felt like killing his pet puppy that was yapping at you and it was good experience. So what if you killed it 30 times?

Grabbing dinner you eat with one hand as you are selling your items you’ve found along the way. Oh boy, you’ve got 3 silver now. That was well worth it handing in 45 willow barks at 2 brass coins a piece!  With all that cash you decide to try crafting. Funny how quickly you ran out of the sparkley stuff and now you need to go out and hunt for special items or for gold to continue your trade.

About a half an hour before bedtime you are now Level eleven and that was hard work! You have a gold to your name, your armor is pretty much like wearing wet toilet paper and you’re kinda lost as to what you are supposed to do next. You feel a bit accomplished but you figure the next day will be better.

Of course it isn’t, your gaming grind has begun. You want the next level, you want the next gold piece and there is some college student who skipped classes to have all the things you want – now you are in competition.

Smack, smack, whack – ding!
Smack, smack, smack, smack, smack, smack, smack – ding!
WhackasmackaWhackasmackaWhackasmackaWhackasmackaWhackasmackaWhackasmacka – ding!

When is this system going to change? When MMO’s were in their infancy the goal for most people was to meet others and share the adventure. Nowadays people don’t meet anyone else except maybe to give the rudest gesture the game allows you to do when someone killed your named creature you’ve been camping for weeks. Thanks buddy.

I have a character in a game that shall remember nameless that is one level from the maximum level. I’m so bored it’s ridiculous, the bar doesn’t move and the quests don’t give enough experience to make them worth doing. So I’m grinding and bored.

Someone stop the insanity!

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2 Responses to The Grind

  1. Shiloh says:

    It’s funny I’ve been thinking about this, but in a different light. I’m tired of games that put in a grind just so you can get to the end game. With the min/maxing and professional gamers out there, levelling up to find friends or explore or even find a sense of accomplishment as a gaming community has changed. And not only that, we feel compelled to ridicule others if their sense of accomplishment is different from ours (that will never change though).

    Part of it has to do with the fact that we are led to believe that the end game is the only reason to play a game and that the beginning and mid game only exist to get us hooked. Well, gamers are moving passed playing a game just because it’s shiny and new. That might get us to shell out $40 for the box, but it won’t keep us around like it used to.

    Start making player’s ingame actions, no matter what their level, count toward the the status of whatever world. Yes, endgame is obviously important if you want people to stick around. But we should have senses of accomplishment – of importance – at any and all levels.

    That will make starting new characters not as daunting, it’ll keep players in the mid levels longer and it will mean new players will always have someone to play with.

  2. Mark says:

    I’ve always felt that leveling should be a “time invested” type of thing with certain requirements for advancement related to the world lore. i.e. You level five times a day (real time) maximum, and the requirement for that is… whatever, 8 hours played. You’d have a checklist of requirements for a level range of things to be done, which would be tailored to grouping with people of similar levels but could also be accomplished as a “twink.” I’m thinking that there would be certain sub categories that must be met, that would take up perhaps 30% of your required time logged in.

    Anyway, I refuse to set aside the pervy nature of the PvE grind because, let’s face it, it’s been the only thing tying some of us to sanity as we kill the 8 billionth wee wolf.

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