The Transitive Property (of Grinding)

Extremely recently, all my desire to play Warframe evaporated.

While there is (a lot of) grinding involved, I mentioned several times in the Warframe post that the game itself is very fun to play. And it is. Leaping from wall to wall as a space ninja terminator is an experience not commonly found in gaming today. But here I sit, looking at the icon, and feeling… nothing. At all.

While I was thinking about what might have changed, I realized that I had, moments before, been playing GW2 and grinding Winterberries. Each character on an account can collect around 50 of them a day, and you need 200-500 of them to purchase a piece of Ascended gear. I don’t need Ascended gear for anything in particular, but it’s character progression, and it’s something relatively mindless to do when I don’t feel like doing anything else in particular.

…oh, yeah. Sort of like what I was going in Warframe.

I had been playing both Warframe and GW2 in my gaming sessions up to this point without issue. The change was alluded to in this post, where I mentioned thinking about grinding LS3 maps for the Ascended trinkets. Before that, I grinded some Warframe, then completed some Story missions in GW2. Now that I’m grinding in GW2, I didn’t “need” to play Warframe anymore.

This also explains why my travels in No Man’s Sky met a similarly abrupt end. Well, the NMS gameplay at the point I stopped was more “leave the game running and check back in 30 minutes to harvest nodes” than grinding per se. But if I were looking to replicate the feeling of a slow accumulation of resources, I could do so as a space ninja terminator. So I did. And then I transferred that sensation to the other half of the MMO I was currently playing, closing the loop.

I don’t imagine that “grinding is grinding” is an especially grand epiphany to anyone reading this. Indeed, chances are you are intimately aware of this relationship if you find grinding to be tiresome and hate it in your games. But in all these years, I never quite realized how… transitive the property is. Like, for a moment, I had considered installing Black Desert Online again to give it another shot, but then realized that its entire economy relies on AFK accumulation of resources. Which is a feeling easily replicated in No Man’s Sky, which has a much more coherent narrative (which isn’t saying much). Which is replaceable with Warframe. Which is currently replaceable with GW2.

In a sense, this is a good situation for me. I am getting all my gaming “needs” met in a singular title. This is a terrible situation for other games, however, because I am able to get all my gaming needs met in a singular title. Why would I play something else? This helps explain why zombie MMOs exist, and how it can be difficult to dislodge a market leader once they achieve a critical mass (beyond the fact that a large audience becomes a draw all by itself).

That said, it’s a bit precarious for ArenaNet in my personal situation, because while I am satisfied at the moment, any upset would send me smoothly into the arms of the next title with some sort of grinding elements. And a not-insignificant part of me feels like bouncing from game to game is a more ideal scenario in the first place, as it exposes me to more novel experiences in the non-grinding portions. For now though, GW2 is satisfying enough. Emphasis on “for now.”

Posted on January 22, 2018, in Guild Wars 2, Philosophy and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 5 Comments.

  1. The tragedy is when, after grinding too much, the revelation hits that it’s -all- a gradual accumulation of resources in most of the popular games these days and you wind up losing any desire to invest too much time/effort/care anywhere.


    • While I absolutely go through a sort of “mourning” period after completing a game – possibly related to a subconscious realization of all the time spent/”wasted” – up to this point I have not yet found a limit to my ability to grind in a new game. There is simply something I fundamentally enjoy about the slow accumulation of resources. It’s weird. Maybe. Or perhaps fortuitous, considering that is the direction the industry has been moving for quite some time.


  2. I am not interested in grinding and find it intellectually void. I avoid games where fun is hidden behind grinding. And yet some grinding make some games seems… More interesting. As much as I liked GW2, when i finally achive my first lvl 80, i started to play less. I stopped playing warframe after my first warframe achieve lvl 20. I first stopped playing world of tanks when i realise grinding would only make the following battle more difficult. I stopped playing minecraft when i start to cheat.
    In all those games i was playing for the fun of it, and thus whatever the grind. And yet i stopped playing when the grind stopped, even if i was convinced i was not playing for the grind but for the fun – thr fun part of the game was still here, only thr grind stop, and yet i stopped.
    The good news is I still love those games and sometimes i restart them and still enjoy them. Maybe i should learn that i love the grind ?


    • While they are probably the same in the abstract, I do consider character progression and grinding to be two separate things. Gaining levels in an RPG is technically a grind, but it is a grind disguised behind plot, quests, and novel new experiences, e.g. gaining new abilities, etc. Once you’re at the level cap, it’s typically a more naked grind for better loot.

      It makes total sense to me that someone could be fine with the general leveling experience and then become bored at the endgame.


  3. I think it’s the same for everyone: you use gaming to satisfy certain needs (which vary in time), and the need matters more than the game which you use to satisfy it.
    Grinding is relaxing, if you read around you’ll see that it’s compared to old-time activities like knitting. It’s great when after a day of work you just want to unwind and do something which provides light feedback (= sense of “progression” + you get to see the nice scenery) with near-zero engagement.
    Then there are moments when you’re looking for something more and look for more stressful/challenging experiences, so you may jump into a fast-paced PvP, or join HM/MM raids. But again, when talking MMOs, this is becoming more and more game-independent, because most MMOs now provide very different “games” packed inside of them.
    I’ve also been jumping around, mostly playing what I feel I want and what friends around me play.


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