How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Grind

William Murphy over at pushes back at the grind in MMOs, especially when you get to the endgame,

Games like WoW are designed brilliantly to keep us playing and entertained as long as possible.  It used to be that character progress in MMOs was incredibly slow.  But WoW changed that.  They made leveling an easy climb to the top.  Finally it seemed like a company understood that it didn’t need to keep us moving slowly along to keep us paying… and then we hit the level cap and found out what we needed to do for our class armor sets.  The process has been simplified these days sure enough, but 400 Frost Emblems for Tier 10 armor is still no drop in the hat.  You’ll still be repeating the same content over and over to achieve your goals, and that’s just the course of action Blizzard hopes you’ll take.

And that, for me, is when the fun stops.

No more do I play MMOs for the gear.  I don’t care about the payoff.  If it’s a grind, I avoid it.  And here, I define “grind” as something bland that I must do repeatedly for a pittance of reward.  If I’m playing a game where the only way to progress is through mindlessly slaying mobs because I’ve run out of actual questing content to partake in, I stop playing.  If I am told the only way to get the game’s best weapon or armor is by repeating this content over and over again, then I don’t try to obtain that item.  It’s my very own MMO credo.

Personally, I’ve stopped worrying and learned to love the grind, especially when it comes wrapped in such an interesting package as it does in World of Warcraft. The nice thing about WoW is that you can take it or leave it when grinding.

I know people, for example, who run high end raid content over and over and have gear far better than I’ll ever get. I know others who simply stop playing a toon once they reach the level cap.

Personally, I think what WoW does right is that there are multiple grinds. You could spend all your time repeating the same raid content. Or you could focus on the PVP content. Or focus on any number of other goals that require endlessly repeating the same task over and over.

Or — and this will sound crazy — why not go back and forth between the two? Some days, I’ll spend hours running the same dungeon over and over again. Then, the next day — I’m flying around mining and fishing about playing the Auction House. Then maybe a few days off and I’m back doing world PVP for the fun of it.

WoW is definitely on the theme park end of the MMO continuum, but the variety and sheer number of things there are to do at the end game mean it doesn’t have to get boring if you decided to play the game rather than letting it play you. It’s a shame so few MMOs have the variety that WoW has at the endgame.