Published on September 1st, 2012 | by Absol0
THE GRIND OF GRINDING: Tips to Reach the Next Level
Have you ever just sat down with a video game and executed the exact same, mindless task for minutes, even hours on end, ad nauseam, just to get some sort of reward? The next Level? The strength or ability to beat that one boss? If you have ever played an RPG, then you know exactly what mechanic I am talking about; one that dates back to ancient video game times: level grinding!
Grinding is exactly as it sounds, chipping away doing repetitive tasks and routines to get stronger in games, and it can be tedious, or in other words, a grind. Most gamers find level grinding boring and often flat-out frustrating, especially when the reward or rate of levelling seems so infinitesimal and worthless that they would feel more productive watching paint dry. Crazed people have developed bots, machines, cheating devices, and even resorted to child labor (read: little brothers/cousins) to reach the next level without having to fight that same worthless enemy five trillion times for eight experience points a pop. Many gamers feel that level grinding is simply not worth their time, and it detracts from the storyline and overall realism of the game unless there is some glorious, gold-plated, significant reward for leveling for so long.
However, there are some mutants, myself included, that have embraced the tedium, whether it be getting that one Pokemon to level 100 and proceeding to destroy every trainer in sight, or reaching those pointless levels past level 40 in Earthbound Zero. We mutants have found level grinding to be an important aspect of games rather than a freight train constantly derailing the storyline of the game. In fact, if programmed well enough, level grinding can make the shortest of games feel like epic adventures rather than some linear stroll to a castle to give some evil dude a beating. There ARE ways to be a mutant just like me, even if you feel like punching everything in the universe every time you have to level up.
Here are five ways that you too can embrace level grinding and even find it enjoyable!
1. LISTEN TO SOME MUSIC.
Music is definitely a friend of mine, and it is probably most likely a friend of yours as well. Music is proven to have an impact on our emotions, often calming us down and relaxing us.
Music can also be an enemy, especially when played incessantly. Often what can be infuriating in a game is not simply the level grinding process, but that same tinny battle music that comes back to haunt you every third Tuesday of the month, even years after last playing the game, no matter how good it is. (Pokemon Crystal, I am glaring at you with weary eyes.)
So, it is often a great idea to just mute the tv/pc/gaming system/potato and listen to some other music. Try some new music out! You know, that one band you have always wanted to listen to more or that soundtrack to that one game. I personally jam out to entire albums at a time while grinding, and the levels accumulate without me even noticing.
2. CHAT WITH SOMEBODY.
Social interaction can be constantly refreshing and changing pace, completely opposite from the routine and Pavlovian button mashing. Chatting with someone can help you lose focus on how tiresome level grinding can be and have some good laughs in the process.
Unless you are incredibly popular or the life of every party in the universe or something, however, it is very difficult to willingly drag a friend or bro or somebody into a room to watch you mash the same button fifty threethousand and a half times. Trust me. I have tried. Luckily for you, however, there are beautiful things known as phone calls and Skype that can aid you in socializing while gaming at the same time without dragging your friend into the grinding abyss with you.
Also, if you are grinding on a portable game, you can easily chat with someone over coffee or hang out with some friends while grinding at the same time. Everyone nowadays is attached to their smartphones anyway; why not attach yourself to a beloved video game?
3. RIDE A TRAIN, A PLANE, OR AN AUTOMOBILE.
This works best for portable games, but with today’s advanced technological improvements in transportation, PC gaming can be just as accessible for this. Why not grind on the open frontier on a long trip?
When you are traveling to far-off destinations, there is not much else to do other than look out at the open road or sky anyway. Grinding in a game is actually considered a very productive option while traveling, and that is the beauty of it all, as gaming is usually seen as a counterproductive activity in most other settings. Also, on these constantly moving vehicles, the view out the window changes, meaning those many times when you can look away from the screen while waiting for the turn to finish or whatever, you get a nice refreshing view every time you look up!
Just don’t level grind while operating a moving vehicle. Especially not a plane. That could be catastrophic. Seriously.
4. SET GOALS AND TAKE BREAKS OFTEN.
Aimless level grinding is something we have all experienced, those times when we tell the world, “Just one more level,” all day until we all pass out at the keyboard/controller.
It is best to pace yourself, not only to make the experience more enjoyable, but also for your own health, safety, and overall productivity. Tell yourself you will only go a few levels up tops, and then you will either take a break or save the rest for another day. Yes, I am telling you to gradually play and procrastinate, but hey! The instruction manual tells you to take routine breaks, too.
Why not step outside every now and then? A breath of fresh air will restore your own proverbial hit points and energy stats. If you are playing a portable game, why not take a stroll while hitting buttons every now and then? Yes, you would probably have to watch out for cars and other people while playing, but those things are great distractions if you find level grinding tedious! (as long as you don’t end up flat as a pancake or mugged. This walk and play idea is potentially terrible advice for urban dwellers unless you live in the middle of nowhere like me.) I also reiterate that the great outdoors can give you p. cool views that your room can not.
5.HAVE FUN!!!!!!! CREATE YOUR OWN CHALLENGES. DOCUMENT THINGS.
This is my number one piece of advice for gamers of all sorts. Look past the canononical goals of playing the video game. Experience it yourself and put your own view on it, not just going through the motions. Remember that the sole intention at the inner core of video gaming is having fun!
Create your own challenges to give it your own twist. For example, my good friend Zelgerath is collecting every treasure in the game Zelda: Spirit Tracks. There is no in-game reward for this task, but completing something of this caliber can really give you a sense of accomplishment, even if it involves the same task thousands of times. Half of the fun of gaming is not the destination, but the journey there, and finding things that give pride and meaning for you is truly a way to seize the opportunity that gaming gives.
Another good idea is to document things. Make a video; make a movie; write an article; tweet about it; live stream it! There are other people out there that may experience the same feeling of joy you did when you completed the task and be inspired by you to create their own Herculean grinding tasks in games.
To sum everything up, grinding can seem to be very tedious and boring to the point where you want to shoot yourself in the foot, but in reality it is all what you yourself make of it. Lose focus on the fact that you have been fighting enemies for the past two hours and begin to realize what you are accomplishing. If your answer is nothing, then you have completely missed the point!(Just to make you mad I am going to use the phrase YOLO here.) Happy grinding, everyone!
- Matt “Absoltastic” Brandl