A little bit of that
There is a parallel in gaming that always makes me think. In a lot of RPGs, especially MMOs, we are just grinding to get that next weapon or cosmetic. Every day, every hour, every minute, we’re moving that little progress bar forward. Sometimes when we do this it’s that little movement that makes us feel satisfied. I feel great that I filled that exp bar again. I suppose in those situations it can seem a little more justified, as that skill point can make a difference in what I can do.
Maybe we’re grinding because we are undertrained for that boss that we died from. Maybe I just want to open another engram in Destiny. Sometimes we’re grinding the grind, like in The Sims, where I’m just trying to earn enough money to get a new piece of furniture. We’re literally playing a game where we grind to earn money just like in real life when we could be doing the exact same thing in real life. The weird thing is that one of the versions is considered entertainment.
Is there something wrong with just chipping away at life to get to the next thing? While I believe that enjoying the journey is important, what if we really just want to learn that skill or get that sound system for the home entertainment room? I think there is a lot of good that can be found in the grind, especially if it involves community or friends.
Let me be clear, it can be a negative thing. It’s often not a good sign if we’re grinding months away of our lives just to get that one object. It’s probable that the satisfaction won’t last very long. This applies to both real life and in game. Maybe that weapon wasn’t as exciting as we thought it was going to be when we finally wield it. I think what I’m getting at is that the best situations are when the grind and the end result are both enjoyable. Sometimes the grind itself isn’t enjoyable. I’m thinking about long term goals like getting to a good place in physical health, earning money only to spend it on fixing something in the house, or the grind of working at a place I don’t want to work at but I still have to to survive. Some grinds are more valuable to me than others, and cutting some out or adding some in can greatly affect my health. This includes games.
Some games won’t be worth my time anymore. I stopped playing Destiny 2 because I’m a lonely person who pushes away those who try to get close to me, but also PvE as a lone person was not great. The grind for the engrams/lootboxes got even more tedious with their newer updates. I love cosmetics. I like the grind to search for an item, but…who am I doing it for? The games weave in and out of my life depending on how important those grinds feel to me. Guild Wars 2 appears every once in a while when my small community pops in to play for a couple of weeks. Is my daily maintenance of Genshin Impact worth it? The gameplay is always fun, and I love the characters, so it remains. I still play Path of Exile, but I’m running out of themed characters to make. Will it still be worth it to me? I guess that depends on why I’m doing it.
Some people can go for hours because they’re with friends. Or maybe they just really want that Dragonbash stuff in Guild Wars. I think for me, while there is some feeling of missing out at times, I grind mostly to unwind. If I don’t have the mental strength to commit to a story, the grind is the way to go. I am often in a bad way because of a collection of mental illnesses, but grinding is something that is alright for me during those times. And sometimes it’s the opposite.
I think the idea that grinding is such a bad thing is not inherent. It all depends on how we use it. Sometimes you need a break. It’s okay to slow down and just chip away at something, hang out with friends, or just recharge. There is nothing wrong with that. Maybe design-wise grinding can be bad, but how we use it can be healthy. It is easy to fall into bad habits of letting the grind takeover our lives because we don’t want to be doing things, but with good management I think grinding can be a refuge. It can be a refuge from our refuge of gaming. We just need some time to not worry.
It is perhaps in times like these that that kind of feeling is a sanctuary to us: a place where we can rest and say, “It’s okay.”
Thanks for reading. I’ll see you next time.