Saturday, July 9, 2011

Grind - What is the true MMORPG definition


My wife made an interesting comment to me the other day as she mentioned she didn't like Spiral Knights. Her reason was that it was a grind, and she was going to go ahead and play WoW. This sounded weird to me, as in Spiral knights I am dungeon grinding just like in Rift, WoW, FFXI, ect.

I don't see any difference between doing a dungeon multiple times for farming/equipment/XP any different then someone else grinding away levels doing 'normal' quests. So the obvious question is... What is a grind? What grinds are true grinds verses having the illusion of a grind? A lot of people will mention UO, EQ1, AC1 and a good number of other older MMOs as being heavy grindy, but that is still up to the user.

UO for instance has quests you could do, one of the deepest crafting available to this day in MMOs, was as solo friendly as it was group friendly, a great cornerstone to the MMO market that has never again been replicated. To me that game isn't a grind, as the players had the choice if they wanted to grind or not. Can't blame the game for the user's actions is my mind set. Same thing with FFXI, when I used to play (back at the time of TAU Xpack, didn't play much afterward), I made the choice to spend eight hours in a party leveling. I could have easily went out and solo leveled, worked on my crafting, designed my home, or simply sat in town looking awesome in my Drachen artifact armor. As long as I have something I can work for, I don't believe a game is a grind. What becomes a grind is when you have nothing left to gain from that particular aspect, but still have to do it because either its the only thing left to do, or because some mechanic forces you to or you suffer some consequence.

My wife appears to be of the mindset that a grind is determined by how many times you have to repeat content though. This isn't a completely wrong mindset, I will admit, as nobody likes doing repeat content over and over. I will say though there is still a level of personal choice in making this call. I am the grouper between my wife and me. Even if I have bad groups, even if I complain about the groups, I still jump right back into them. My wife though takes things very serious, and if someone insults her in a group it's almost an immediate /ignore from her. She would much rather solo then dealing with people. This of course means she is content running the same content over and over, which to me is a huge grind. 'Kill 5 rats and return to me so I can tell you to kill 10 orcs' is no better or worse then me collecting my Jelly Tokens for my Antigua and Sealed Sword weapons in Spiral Knights. She rather enjoys that though.

I believe it isn't a far jump from saying each person has their own idea of grinding. My wife and I are polar opposites in this regard.

So the question remains: Who gets the right to call one game or another a grind? Can we call WAR's renown gain a grind? What about Rift? Is it wrong to farm dungeons in Spiral Knights, but not in WoW? Is this just another area where a generation gap of MMO players is present?
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