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View Full Version : Grinding in video games, and Adam Sessler's thoughts on them.



KentaRawr!
10-29-2009, 10:09 PM
Because a video made by Adam Sessler inspired me to make this thread, I suppose I might as well link you to his thoughts on the subject.

Here you go. (http://g4tv.com/thefeed/blog/post/700128/Sesslers-Soapbox-Grinding-is-Good.html)

So, what do you think of grinding in video games? Do you agree with Sessler's thoughts on it? If not, why do you disagree? And why is it called grinding?

Go!

JKTrix
10-29-2009, 10:20 PM
I love Sessler's Soapbox.

I believe Grinding in this context is closer to the definition that it is laborious, monotonous, hard work. It's more than just fighting random enemies in an RPG to gain experience for the next level, though that is the most commonly used application.

For me, it depends on the game, how it's executed and what the rewards are. I might stop playing a traditional JRPG if I find my level is too low to accomplish something, because I do not want to grind in its boring battle system to get up to that level. But then on the other hand, I grind like nobody's business in Demon's Souls, and think almost nothing of it.

Laddy
10-29-2009, 10:34 PM
I hate Sessler, he seems to epitomize the boring 12 year-old delusions de hardcore archetype I despise.

Markus. D
10-29-2009, 11:20 PM
I love G4TV even though I don't always agree...


Grinding to me is all based on what JKTrix said XD

Skyblade
10-30-2009, 12:29 AM
He missed one very important point: Grinding is not fun, by definition. Grinding, whenever it is used by the gaming community, is used to describe something they do not enjoy. This is why people do not always agree as to what constitutes grinding, because different people like different things. Grinding is repetition in a game (usually forced by some aspect of gameplay, whether it's a certain reward or simply to progress the story) that a player does not enjoy. Repetition alone does not make something a grind. That's why no one ever talked about the grind in Tetris, despite it being infinite repetition.

JKTrix
10-30-2009, 01:03 AM
I hate Sessler, he seems to epitomize the boring 12 year-old delusions de hardcore archetype I despise.

Precisely why I love the Sessler's Soapbox series. What you see on G4TV productions is scripted. He is playing a part.

The Soapbox is where he is allowed to speak in a more 'real' manner, while still kind of in an official context. The man is an Executive at G4, one of the bosses. I have heard him in other podcasts over the years and in candid discussions. He has a level head. I don't really care for his scripted antics on TV (I haven't watched G4 in a long, long time...at least a year and a half), but I respect the man himself.

As far as the definition of 'the act of grinding', you're right, it is not fun and he doesn't address that specifically. I think it is the reward of the 'grind' that makes it fun for him. It seems he was talking in the context of Borderlands (and a little bit of Too Human), which is a loot grind much like Diablo. And people enjoy playing Diablo.

In the gaming context, people do use the word 'grind' as a negative attribute. So, he is showing this video as a counter-point. 'Grinding', designed well, might not seem like the chore it is. A point that may be difficult for members of a JRPG fan site to easily grasp.

Skyblade
10-30-2009, 01:25 AM
I hate Sessler, he seems to epitomize the boring 12 year-old delusions de hardcore archetype I despise.

Precisely why I love the Sessler's Soapbox series. What you see on G4TV productions is scripted. He is playing a part.

The Soapbox is where he is allowed to speak in a more 'real' manner, while still kind of in an official context. The man is an Executive at G4, one of the bosses. I have heard him in other podcasts over the years and in candid discussions. He has a level head. I don't really care for his scripted antics on TV (I haven't watched G4 in a long, long time...at least a year and a half), but I respect the man himself.

As far as the definition of 'the act of grinding', you're right, it is not fun and he doesn't address that specifically. I think it is the reward of the 'grind' that makes it fun for him. It seems he was talking in the context of Borderlands (and a little bit of Too Human), which is a loot grind much like Diablo. And people enjoy playing Diablo.

In the gaming context, people do use the word 'grind' as a negative attribute. So, he is showing this video as a counter-point. 'Grinding', designed well, might not seem like the chore it is. A point that may be difficult for members of a JRPG fan site to easily grasp.

Take a look at World of Warcraft grinds for a sec. Every day in there, you will here people talking about levelling up. Some people are grinding to 80, others are powerlevelling, questing, or running instances until they get to 80. Different takes on exactly the same activity. Or take a look at what I am doing right now on my Warrior. I am grinding Warsong Gulch to get the marks for the mounts (working on my 100 mount achievement). I feel compelled to do it to get the mounts, yet I hate the actual Battleground and feel forced to do it repetitively. Yet, there are some other people who do the same thing I am doing (endless WSG), some even with the same objective in mind, who enjoy it. Those people are not grinding, I am.

A grind is never fun. No matter how repetitious a game is (and tons of games have repetitious gameplay without being accused of grinding), if you are having fun playing it, it's not a grind, it's just playing the game. It only becomes a grind when you are not having fun at the repetitious activity (and, thus, are usually doing it for a reward that you think will be worth it).

So a grind in a game is never defensible. What he was doing in Borderlands was not a grind. He was enjoying the hell out of it, and doing it just because he liked the activity, not for any reward at the end (at least, not that he mentioned). As he said, he was doing it because he wanted to be doing it, and that is not a grind, that's just good gameplay. Repetition is not necessarily a bad thing, but a grind is.

Bolivar
10-30-2009, 01:41 AM
I like Sessler's Soapbox a lot for the rants and I especially like how sometimes you have to read between the lines (even though it's a video) to get at what he's actually saying because a lot of the time it's on a controversial topic in gaming he could get flamebaited for.

Like others have said, he's not really talking about grinding, just doing smaller tasks you take on before advancing in the more important story missions. I think games that do that well are especially enjoyable and the activity of vegging out and doing less important/pointless things can be very fun when done right.

As far as what we refer to grinding - engaging in random battles to get up to a good level in RPG's, I love the hell out of it and I'm not sure I agree with Skyblade b/c there's nothing else to call it when I love doing it. FFVI I really like grinding because despite beating it 3 times (and a couple more playthroughs than that), I'm always finding new things in the battle system. I don't know, I just like power levelling (i guess that's more important if we want to settle that grinding refers to a non-enjoyable activity) and it's something I would never want taken away from my JRPG's.

Skyblade
10-30-2009, 02:12 AM
Bolivar, despite the powerlevelling in the early FFs, they were never called a grind during their heyday, because grinding is a fairly new term. It was not around in the earlier days of gaming for a couple very good reasons. First, games were simple. With a game like Tetris, there is no grind, even though it is all repetition. When that's all there is to a game, it's not a grind (because there is no end objective). People who didn't like it, quit. Also, games weren't as mainstream, and gamers mostly stuck to what they knew and enjoyed. Until we had games that were complex enough, and mainstream enough, we never had the term grind. Grind came about to describe people feeling forced to play through something repetitive they did not enjoy to get to something else that you do enjoy (or think you will enjoy). People will go back and play FFIII now, and may think that some parts of it require a grind, because they don't like the endless random fights or the amount of levelling/training you had to do for it. But the people who played and loved it when it came out would never even think of it as a grind. To them, that's just the game, and they do it because it's fun. As you do.

Bolivar
10-30-2009, 04:46 AM
^ Well put!

Slothy
10-30-2009, 01:28 PM
Bolivar, despite the powerlevelling in the early FFs, they were never called a grind during their heyday, because grinding is a fairly new term. It was not around in the earlier days of gaming for a couple very good reasons. First, games were simple. With a game like Tetris, there is no grind, even though it is all repetition. When that's all there is to a game, it's not a grind (because there is no end objective). People who didn't like it, quit. Also, games weren't as mainstream, and gamers mostly stuck to what they knew and enjoyed. Until we had games that were complex enough, and mainstream enough, we never had the term grind. Grind came about to describe people feeling forced to play through something repetitive they did not enjoy to get to something else that you do enjoy (or think you will enjoy). People will go back and play FFIII now, and may think that some parts of it require a grind, because they don't like the endless random fights or the amount of levelling/training you had to do for it. But the people who played and loved it when it came out would never even think of it as a grind. To them, that's just the game, and they do it because it's fun. As you do.

Keep in mind about actual grinding in older games like FFI or III (grinding experience to get powerful enough to fight the enemies in the next dungeon or the next boss), that's a large staple in those for the same reason a lot of games in that era are brutally hard and unforgiving; if they weren't, they'd last an hour and you'd never play them again. They couldn't spin 40 hour yarns or feature enough levels to get multiple hours of game out there without making it hard. That said, the games that were really fun because the gameplay was solid in spite of being hard were also extremely rewarding simply for the sense of accomplishment when you finally did advance.

That said, the days where I find grinding for the sake of grinding or for some slightly useful reward to be the least bit pleasant are long gone. I typically hate it myself because most games offer little real pay off for the time and effort put in, and any game that requires grinding to continue with the story loses me sooner rather than later (I'm looking at you Dragon Quest VIII). The games where I don't mind grinding and could literally do it for hours are always the games where the battle system is so fun, challenging and addictive that I can't put it down. Unfortunately those are also fewer and farther between these days. I haven't seen many games of any type that offered combat that was so rewarding on it's own that I could stand grinding.

FFXII was one that did for me though. I would happily grind for loot when I needed money or go on hunt after hunt slaughtering scores of enemies because the gameplay was challenging enough to be rewarding and such a refreshing change from the old ATB system that I didn't mind playing it for hours on end. You can offer all of the quest rewards and interesting tidbits about the game world you want to try and reward grinding but it's not going to hold my attention as well as a combat system that is just plain fun and challenging.

Wolf Kanno
11-04-2009, 04:40 AM
I actually agree with Sessler on this, and before Skyblade pipes up about semantics, I would just like to add that I feel grinding is one of those terms used to describe a negative thing but as the gaming culture grows, it is becoming something that's not looked on as bad. I genuinely love to grind. I have to really hate a system in order to dislike grinding and I never grind with a real goal in mind so it is just me doing crap repeatedly for little reward except as with the case of Sessler, to ease a bit of stress. Sometimes I need a monotonous task so I'll level up in an RPG or throw in an action game and beat crap up, or do Survivor Mode in a Fighting game.

I probably get more worked up with pointless fetch quests than I do grinding. Being sent off to the far corners of the earth to retrieve or deliver an item for a little bit of XP or a simple trinket has never appealed to me. FFXII is unique cause I love and hate the grind at the same time. I love to grind for levels or gold to help my party but can't stand grinding for Treasure spawns or unique item drops for the Bazaar. Yet in FFIV, I can't stand grinding for levels but I love grinding for rare item drops. Go figure... :eep:

I have used the term "grind" both affectionately and as a curse in my gaming experience.

Tavrobel
11-04-2009, 05:09 AM
And people enjoy playing Diablo.

No, we don't. We think that we do, when in fact, we like it when items with gold names drop, but don't want to have to farm bosses and regular enemies to do it.

To me, "grinding" is leveling up before a boss; in fact, the only reward is having the superior statistics so that you can access a more advanced part of the game. To me, what most people define to be "grinding" is inadequate as a term. It's more like you're bitching about the game because you expect it to be handed to you. To me, grinding is all about the statistics. It's the desire for a numerical superiority that does not rely on luck, skill, or ingenuity. It's repetitive and mechanical; fighting Nidoran so that your Charmander can actually beat Brock's Onix? Yeah, that's grinding; fighting some new trainer isn't, because the primary reward is no longer the EXP, and you're not going to repeat the action any time soon. You can't have one without the other and still call it grinding. Otherwise, it wouldn't match up with what the word's etymology (but then again, "grinding" could also involve a dance floor and a member of the opposite sex).

To do something for a reward other than merely accessing a later part of a game is farming. Here, you've got a tangible reward in the game's universe. Sure, the events can seem familiar, but it's not grinding.

Moon Rabbits
11-04-2009, 06:28 AM
The only grinding I do is in dark, sweaty clubs.

Steve
11-05-2009, 02:14 AM
Bolivar, despite the powerlevelling in the early FFs, they were never called a grind during their heyday, because grinding is a fairly new term. It was not around in the earlier days of gaming for a couple very good reasons. First, games were simple. With a game like Tetris, there is no grind, even though it is all repetition. When that's all there is to a game, it's not a grind (because there is no end objective). People who didn't like it, quit. Also, games weren't as mainstream, and gamers mostly stuck to what they knew and enjoyed. Until we had games that were complex enough, and mainstream enough, we never had the term grind. Grind came about to describe people feeling forced to play through something repetitive they did not enjoy to get to something else that you do enjoy (or think you will enjoy). People will go back and play FFIII now, and may think that some parts of it require a grind, because they don't like the endless random fights or the amount of levelling/training you had to do for it. But the people who played and loved it when it came out would never even think of it as a grind. To them, that's just the game, and they do it because it's fun. As you do.

This pretty much sums up grinding to a tee. For me I am a person who loves exploring games I consider grinding something like forcing myself to play a game I don't find entertaining for achievements or gamerscore. For example if I was to play the Orange Box for all it's possible achievements I didn't find the games in it too enjoyable so why grind and force myself to complete it?

Mirage
11-05-2009, 09:37 AM
What's the game running on one of the monitors in the background? The one that isn't Borderlands.

And grinding is ok if it's exciting while you do it, not when it becomes just a boring routine of hitting keys in a specific pattern. Grinding is a lot more fun in Fallout 3 than in any Final Fantasy I've played.

Steve
11-05-2009, 10:10 AM
What's the game running on one of the monitors in the background? The one that isn't Borderlands.


The other game is Too Human on the Xbox 360, a deeply flawed but fun game.

Vusasaki
11-06-2009, 04:18 AM
Hmm an interesting subject. I've played quite a few major grinding games in my day. Runescape, WoW, D2, and Maple Story are a few that I remember had some major grinding to them. I personally didn't mind grinding at all. I actually enjoyed grinding because it was a way for my mind to go on nothing and let me enjoy my music while doing some simple task for a long period of time. The best part for grinding I think is of course the rewards. Heck, in Runescape its a constant grind-fest but you get hooked for the reason that you want the money or that skill cape.

I think it all comes down to the fact that people dont mind to grind or they hate it and wont do it ever. I rarely have seen a truly gray shade in this debate. I always see those who prefer one over the other or are on one of the extreme sides.