“Grinding,” explains Nicholaus Noles in his article “Nose to the Grindstone,”is a core component of many video games. Repetitively completing the same task or defeating the same enemies was a staple of the games of yesteryear — especially role-playing games such as Dragon Warrior and Final Fantasy — and many games (including the current crop of massively multiplayer online role-playing games) still require players to invest their time in such activities.”
I suppose this is somewhat related to having to exercise and practice to develop the skills necessary to engage in sports and complex games (chess, bridge). Maybe you do in fact improve some abilities as you find yourself grinding through a game in pursuit of a “Barman Shanker” or some such prized weapon or ability or virtual fortune. But, as Noles points out, you are, in fact, gambling – if not with money, then with your time.
He ends his article with a deliciously profound observation:
“The Gambler’s Fallacy is the juicy worm that starts a grinding session, but Sunk Costs are the hooks that keeps people grinding. The behaviors and misconceptions related to these two fallacies make you overly optimistic about your chances of acquiring rare items or accomplishing daunting tasks, and keep you grinding long after the all the fun has drained out of your play time. Unfortunately, knowing about these tendencies does not make you immune to irrational intuitions that creep into your mind. The important thing to remember is that the past is the past. Ask yourself: “Am I having fun right now?” If the answer is “no,” then you should probably stop killing wolves.”
What a great question to ask yourself, no matter what you’re playing or playing at: “Am I having fun right now?”
via my friend, the continually amazing Celia Pearce