The actual definition of Grind is "a tedious task" and it's synonymous with Drudgery. Tedious, by the way, is defined as "boring, monotonous, time consuming". I think that pretty much sums up what most MMO players think of Grinding.
And yet... I always find it terribly surprising when someone speaks out in favor of the grind. "No. No." they say, "we like the grind. The grind is important. It provides meaning. Context for all our hard work."
You like boring, monotonous, time consuming tasks? Really? Forgive me while I display some skepticism for a moment. For I find it impossible that even a masochist would really enjoy tasks that, by definition, are uninteresting, repetitive and cause players mental weariness.
No. I don't think you really do like the grind. No one likes the grind.
I think you like the reward.
I think what players like is the sense of achievement that comes from overcoming difficulty. That and the shiny Pavlovian treat that usually accompanies that sense of achievement.
No. It's not the "grind" that players find rewarding. It's the reward that they find rewarding.
I'm convinced that if you created a "box" in the middle of Orgrimmar that players could jump on for free coins that players would happily jump on that box 24/7 and proceed to send Blizzard thank you emails for giving them that box. The "box" they would say is the smartest idea ever.
But, of course, it's not the "box" that players would enjoy but the Reward it provides.
We need challenge, but do we need Grind?
As MMO players, we crave challenge. We want challenge. It's what gives our virtual achievements context and meaning.
As I wrote in Mid-June, there are several ways to make your MMO more difficult:
- Twitch Skills
- Reactive Decision Making
- Planned Strategic Thinking
- Time Consuming
- Severe Consequences
- Organizational Structure
We don't need the Grind to make a game challenging. There are plenty of ways to increase the challenge without needing to make it monotonous or boring.