Created By: crawlkill on October 30, 2012 Last Edited By: crawlkill on December 13, 2012

Boredom Simulator

A game's mechanics encourage grinding through repeated action that doesn't involve actual gameplay or thought.

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Grinding's a thing. Whether your world-spanning MMO has a level cap that needs attaining (attention?) or you were just a few points shy of taking down that optional boss in your JRPG, players will, statistically, always take Just One More Turn to raise the numbers in any game with numbers to raise. It's basic psychology, and if it isn't quite healthy, it's not actually diseased.

Some games, though, create feedback loops with a fester in the mix. It's halfway normal to kill ten rats for ten hours to earn your next hero star and be one step ahead of the game--you've been playing the game for those ten hours, after all. But it's something else when the game provides a set of underdeveloped side-mechanics that allow an equal or superior progression for your character just in return for the investment of time and buttonpresses. Without any attempt to simulate the action or tactical thought of a traditional game experience, these compulsive number-raising cycles often amount to flicking repeatedly through menus or talking to skill-boosting characters over and over. And over. And over. Just because each time a number--even if it's a number significant to more "gamey" areas of gameplay--rises on a character sheet somewhere. In Boredom Simulator game activities, the play interacts with the game without any kind of thought, variation or excitement, just presses the same brief sequence again and again so that he can gain an advantage in another part of the game (unless, of course, the entire game is a Baredom Simulator).

The foremost examples would be almost limitless descriptions of skillgrinding in Elder Scrolls games (crafting 5000 copper daggers from vendor materials in Skyrim over several in-game weeks to reach 100 Smithing at level 1-10, autowalking into a wall for ten real-life hours to grind Sneaking to 100 in Oblivion, among myriad other possibilities). Similar examples can be cited for almost any RPG, somewhere along the line, whether it's summoning and killing your own pathetic creatures over and over in Baldur's Gate (did they yield experience?) or sprinting up and down the sneakcheck hideout wall in Wasteland to grind an entire party to 20th level in a few hours.
Community Feedback Replies: 7
  • October 30, 2012
    Here's a quote;
    "During the second chaper, Mario is expected to work in order to pay off some of the mindless vandalism that comes naturally to action-adventure heroes, and the best way to do this is to press right to run around in a giant hamster wheel for-no-joke-somewhere about a quarter of an hour. That's if you're thick. if you're smart (like me) you weigh down the D-Pad with one of your roomates figurines and go off to amuse yourelf. That's right, you have to amuse yourself while playing a game, something ostensibly designed to amuse. If the player is doing this, than something has gone wrong."
  • December 12, 2012
    Yes! Yesyesyes! Exactly that! I'm torn on whether automatable activities should fall under this trope--a -true- Boredom Simulator should actually require mindless inputs, or at least clever macros--but that's exactly the kind of thing I'm talkin about.
  • December 12, 2012
    Sound a lot like a generalized version of Forced Level Grinding.
  • December 12, 2012
    The way it's currently written, it sounds like a magnet for complaining. Which is not a good thing.

    Desert Bus is a deliberate version of this.
  • December 12, 2012
    The examples given sound less like forced grinding and more like a Game Breaker exploit which is boring to take advantage of.
  • December 13, 2012
    Perhaps this belongs on the Darth Wiki.
  • December 13, 2012
    ^ Agreed. This is subjective, and sounds like Complaining about certain instances of Level Grinding.