Everyone who plays MMO games will be familiar with the term grinding. Grinding is usually a simple way of gaining experience, levelling up your character and making money by performing a mind numbing repetitive action like killing an AI creature. World of Warcraft is renowned for grinding and since so many games have attempted to emulate their success the model they have adopted is very popular elsewhere as well.
There is no skill involved in grinding it is merely time consuming. With all the fun of repeatedly pressing an attack button the only reason to do it is because it is the easiest and most effective way of gaining experience and finding gold and material rewards. For gamers who prefer PvP gaming grinding lets them level up for combat as quickly as possible.
There are various types of grinding; solo monster slaying is the most basic. You can also complete quests to gain experience and grind along the way but in general they take longer and the rewards are less. Mob grinding is another possibility, groups teaming up to slaughter monsters but is it any less boring? You can check out this link to read about more of the problems with quest heavy advancement versus mob grinding.
Chat or Watch TV
So assuming we are stuck with grinding to some extent, because some people will always take the path of least resistance, then how can you deal with it? How do you combat the boredom?
You could spend the time chatting to friends using RL chat or team speak. Who knows you might make a new friend or find love. You could even use a hands free set for your cell phone to catch up with family and friends while you play. Grinding doesn’t really require your full attention so it is easy to chat at the same time.
Another possibility is to watch television, especially if you have a set close to your computer. If you can see both screens at the same time you can watch something and grind at the same time. If you don’t have a television nearby then put some music on. Music is often great for letting you switch off and relax.
Pay Someone Else
It may be frowned upon but a way to avoid grinding altogether which many people have tried is to pay someone else to grind for them. You could try a power leveling service or just buy an account from someone else. You’d have to be pretty desperate to do this and it is important to note that most developers strictly forbid the practice and will ban you if they catch you. You may end up paying a lot of money for nothing, like the guy who paid $9,000 for a WoW character and got banned a few days later.
The main way to avoid the grind is to take on quests instead and there are some interesting quests available in the majority of MMO games however once you have completed the good quests what do you do? It is also tough to deny that some of the quests feel like thinly concealed grinding anyway, there are only so many actions you can be tasked with performing, this inevitable repetition is a problem in game design generally.
Grinding is Bad Game Design
Many gamers seem to be addicted to the act of grinding itself. Some people actually find it relaxing because there is no real challenge and they don’t have to concentrate too hard. Since there is a positive reward it doesn’t feel like wasted time either. Personally I find an over reliance on grinding is enough to put me off some games. The idea of slavishly putting in loads of time in order to level up without any real skill factor being involved is just bad game design. The idea that any player regardless of ability can perform a repetitive task and ignore the more challenging or interesting aspects of the game and yet still achieve the top level seems plain wrong to me.
At the end of the day we are paying a subscription fee for MMO games to have fun. Grinding is not fun. It is enough to drive you to real life violence. Of course the ultimate answer on how to avoid the boring tedium of grinding is just not to do it at all.