Grinding (gaming)

In video gaming, grinding is performing repetitive tasks for gameplay advantage.[1][2] Many video games use different tactics to implement, or reduce the amount of grinding in play. The general use of grinding is for "experience points", or to improve a character's level. However, the behavior is sometimes referred to as pushing the bar, farming or catassing.

Overview

Grinding is a controversial subject among players. Many do not enjoy it, and disparage it as a symptom of poor or uninspired game design. Others embrace it, claiming that all games feature grinding to some extent, or claim to enjoy the practice of regular grinding.[3] Some games, especially free-to-play games, allow players to bypass grinding by paying additional fees.

In an example of grinding in MMORPG, it can be advantageous to repeatedly kill AI-controlled monsters, using basically the same strategy over and over again to advance one's character level and to unlock content. Grinding may be required by some games to unlock additional features such as level progression or additional items.

Synonyms for grinding include the figurative terms treadmilling[3] (a comparison with exercise treadmills) and pushing the bar[4] (it can be a reference to a weightlifter "pushing the bar" on a bench press, over and over to get muscle gains, or a reference to Skinner boxes in which animals, having learned that pushing a button will sometimes produce a treat, will devote time to pushing the bar over and over again[citation needed], or also can be a graphical reference to push the character's experience bar to higher values)[citation needed]. Related terms include farming (in which the repetition is undertaken in order to obtain items, relating the activity to tending a farm field), and catassing, which refers to extended or obsessive play sessions. Used as a noun, a grind (or treadmill) is a designed in-game aspect which requires the player to engage in grinding.

Grinding has led to some players programming scripts, bots, macros and other automation tools to perform the repetitive tasks. This is usually considered a form of hacking or an exploit by the game's developers, and will often times result in a ban[citation needed]. Due to the controversial subject of grinding, this act is sometimes, but not always, frowned upon in the gaming community.

Reasons

Several answers have been suggested for the question of why players grind. A major motivating factor is the players' desire to pursue what appears to be the game's ultimate goal, which for many games is to reach the highest level.[1] Sometimes players might actually enjoy repetitive tasks as a way of relaxing, especially if performing the task has a persistent, positive result.[5]

One reason that is less influenced by player choice is a lack of game content or to be able to battle stronger enemies.[2] If the player experiences all interesting content at the current level before reaching the next objective, the only alternative might be for the player to grind to the next level.[1] "Interesting content" is key here since the player might have been given "new content" that is too similar to previous content to be considered interesting by the player. [note 1][6]

Additionally, the players may grind for the enjoyment of being better at the game. Putting in the time to grind leads the player to gain experience and level up. Increases in level often come with additional statistical boosts and new abilities, which in turn allow the player to defeat stronger enemies. Time invested in grinding is usually related to strength or ability in the game. This relationship is encouraging to players, consistently rewarding their grinding effort.[2]