One of the most challenging aspects of video-games culture for a newcomer, especially for a busy parent, is trying to learn and understand the many, many acronyms and specialised terms. GameHub HQ entries are jargon-free, so you can get the information you need as easily and painlessly as possible, but there are still some words worth knowing. Every Monday, we break down one Word Worth Knowing from the world of gaming.

What is Grinding, what do you need to know and why do you need to care?

What It Is: Grinding = Repeatedly playing through a small section of the overall game, generally in order to steadily accumulate Experience Points (XP) with low risk.

What It Means:  Grinding is a low-risk method of progressing a game which involves replaying an easy section of the game repeatedly, rather than attempting a more challenging section, in order to slowly accumulate a large cache of in-game rewards. For example:

Killing: 1xRat (5HP) [Reward: 1 Gold] + 1xRat (5HP) [Reward: 1 Gold] + 1xRat (5HP) [Reward: 1 Gold] + 1xRat (5HP) [Reward: 1 Gold] + 1xRat (5HP) [Reward: 1 Gold] = 5 Gold

Killing 1xOgre (50HP) [Reward: 5 Gold] = 5 Gold

The reward is the same, but for a low-level character, the challenge of killing a 50HP ogre is almost insurmountable, whilst killing 5 rats is barely a challenge. Thus a smart player will “grind” at killing rats in order accumulate gold to spend on upgrading their character. Upgraded characters will gain levels of power until killing an ogre is no longer a challenge. At which point a new more challenging creature (eg a Basilisk) will appear and the player will start grinding ogres in order to fight the new monster. Grinding is a slow and safe way of evening the odds in confrontations, and thus lessening the mathematical risk to the player’s character.

Grinding is almost universally considered a symptom of bad game design, as the player soon becomes bored and frustrated by repeating the same tasks over and over again. As a result, the rise in popularity in genres of so-called Casual Games, where grinding is central to the interaction design, has caused some debate and tension with games circles.

Why You Care: Grinding involves a very large outlay of time on a fairly repetitive activity. As such, it can appear to an outsider that a player has become obsessed with a particular game and is investing all their time in it. Grinding can often be extremely boring, with players replaying the same section of a game over and over and over again and this will often cause players to become short-tempered and irritable, as they feel they are wasting their own time due to poor game design. Players will often grind “mindlessly” whilst engaged in other tasks such as chatting with friends, listening to podcasts or eating.

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