Strip-mining the Nether – Grass Pants muses on Grinding

So, I have been playing a lot of Minecraft lately. I mean, it’s 99% of the reason that I haven’t been posting (that and my backlog scares me). Well, I haven’t been playing vanilla Minecraft but rather screwing around with the Technic Pack. I’ve been meaning to review it, but… uh… Every time I try, it boils down to me saying ‘This has a lot of cool stuff, go get it right now.’ Not terribly exciting material.

Anyway, because of Thaumcraft, I’ve been needing what scientists describe as  “six metric crap tons” of materials. So I’ve had to grind a huge amount of stuff. And I’ve realized while grinding that, outside of just screwing around with cool stuff, it’s the most fun I’ve had in Minecraft in ages. I just throw on some music, bust out my Pickaxe of the Core (3×3 mining tool from Thaumcraft) and go to town on the landscape.

And it’s not just Minecraft I’ve noticed this in. Before I beat Persona 4, my favorite thing was just taking a day and grinding in the final dungeon. Same with Etrian Odyssey (although it’s more like the second dungeon there, but hey). Same with every game I have ever played. There’s just something… zen-like about grinding, and I’m going to try to reason out why.

My first thought is, well, grinding is inherently mindless or else it’s not grinding. It’s a great way to unwind after a long day of school or work. Considering that you’re not really thinking while doing it, it’s a great way to kill some time if you’re waiting on a show or someone to visit or pop online or something. Another big reason for why grinding has that special zen quality is that it’s a hell of a way to burn stress (without getting too pissed off in the process, hopefully). I guess this really depends on the brutality of the game, though. Darksiders is great for just mindlessly killing a horde of zombies in the most horrible fashions possible. Minecraft or Persona are less ‘physical’ about their violence.

So, people often look at grinding to be a bad thing, but if done right it can easily be one of the best parts of the game. I mean, don’t get me wrong, there is bad ways to do grinding (hello, daily quests in World of Warcraft), but it can be a real calming experience if you find just the right level of thoughtlessness and automation to put into it. Anyway, yeah, that’s me done for the day. Hopefully will be able to work up the bravery to dive into the last bit of Brave 10 and the pretty-much-everything of Ozma soon enough. Varus impressions are coming tomorrow, though, even if I have to uninstall Minecraft to make it happen!

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3 Responses to Strip-mining the Nether – Grass Pants muses on Grinding

  1. darkandchoco says:

    I was fond of grinding back in the days of old games, but as recent high rated games came out, they seem to be taking the grinding factor in games away.. although there is still some that have some grinding potential, but then I noticed more and more games remove this. Or is it just me? haha! Well I’m playing Batman Arkham City right now and, it still has some grinding features to it more or less, like trying to solve and find all the effing riddles and riddle trophies! XD

    • If you’re looking for grinding done well in modern (or semi-modern) games, definitely check out anything Atlus has ever touched. Particularly anything of the Etrian Odyssey or Shin Megami Tensei series. And, if you’ve never played them before, expect these games to be ‘banging-your-head-against-a-brick-wall’ difficult.

      And I’ve been meaning to pick up Arkham City, let’s hope it’s on the steam summer sale (or one of Amazon’s ‘here’s 75% off some downloadable games’ sales…).

  2. darkandchoco says:

    Oh I see, thanks! I haven’t heard of those games before! XD

    Batman Arkham City is definitely recommendable! haha! been playing it for weeks and I’m still at 14% game completion XD

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