Thabo’s Tirades: Therapeutic Monotony – The Appeal Of The Grind And The Slow – Geek Node

Editorial: Thabo’s Tirades: Therapeutic Monotony – The Appeal Of The Grind And The Slow

Written by
MG Thabo

The views contained in this article are that of the author and should not be taken as the opinion of Geek Node as a publication.

There’s some gamers and games out there that kind of transcend the norms of “conventional” gaming. In a traditional sense, games are meant to be a hardcore action packed thrill fest where you press buttons in hundreds of combinations and pull off some dope moves. That’s how games usually play out and we love them for it. But there’s also another side of gaming that’s a bit more slowed down, a bit more relaxed. These games fell into a bit of a niche, but they’ve grown more and more prevalent due to gamers discovering the appeal behind them. These games include some titles as Euro/American Truck Simulator, an abundance of “walking simulators”, some aspects of MMOs, Stardew Valley, Animal Crossing and so on.

It’s a bit weird to understand that some people can enjoy monotony and a relaxed experience, but it’s not too far out there. We live in a world that is going at a million miles an hour, advertisements are flashed into our faces at every possible instance and we spend our days in a scuffle trying to do all our tasks at once. We also sit on our phones and scroll through thousands of tweets and posts about whatever hot button issue is happening right now and hearing people scream at the top of their lungs about something that isn’t really even that important.

Games have become as busy as the society around it with a ton of explosions and heroes shouting that they don’t have enough time to save the world and so on. Myriad mechanics are thrown in our faces and we are tasked to make sense and master them in a short amount of time. And this is also exhausting. I even have a profound dislike for Black Ops 3’s singleplayer campaign because it was just noise and explosions for the entirety of the whole experience. Sometimes I just want to get away and do something mindless for an hour or so.

I’m a huge fan of farming games. Not Farming Simulator, that’s a little bit too extreme, but games like Harvest Moon, Rune Factory and Stardew Valley. You walk around, plant some seeds, water them, harvest your crops to get more money to get a better farm and so on. It’s relaxing to go around with your little watering can and taking care of your crops and when you’re done you can go around town and talk to some eligible bachelor and bachelorettes or make some new friends and learn their stories. It’s a nice, tranquil and pleasant experience and I absolutely love it. I don’t really mention it to a lot of people because it’s slightly weird, but it’s genuinely enthralling.

I’ve also not understood why people play games such as Euro Truck Simulator in the past. You spend your free time driving a virtual truck across the country and there are people that do this for a living? That’s absurd, surely. But it goes deeper than that. I watched some people play the game and their reaction to it was more or less unanimous. To them it’s a moment of respite from the world where they can be at peace, look at some virtual scenery and just chill out for a moment. Some use the time to listen to their backlog of podcasts while some just sit and enjoy the ride. Also the game does have some management aspects associated with it so it’s not just driving a truck around all willy nilly.

Then you get to a bit more extreme cases like people that sit for hours in an MMO grinding away levels and proficiency, but that can also be a good time. I played Final Fantasy XIV for a couple of months before I couldn’t afford the subscription fees anymore and in it I was a miner for a while. I would go around with my pickaxe and discover nodes that I had to sit and mine by pressing one button and taking a few RNG risks. From the outside it looked like it was dreadfully boring, just going around and finding more nodes to mine and the mechanics never really changed whatsoever. But it was nice to work towards a goal and striving to achieve that goal. I got a little bit of XP for every successful mine and some materials that I could sell on the player market. It was satisfying whenever I got a new level and got to upgrade my mining equipment. Also, I used the mining time to catch up with a lot of TV series and YouTube videos.

Grinding in MMOs can also be a social experience. You sit there doing the dungeon for the 500th time, but you and your guildmates are chatting up a storm in TeamSpeak as you take on the same dungeon you’ve faced so many times before. There’s ways to have fun outside of just playing the game, like me watching some stuff while I mine the same rock for the umpteenth time.

Some gamers and people can’t understand that grinding and monotonous activities can also be entertaining. Some of us get a lot of joy out of it even if it can be seen as a “waste of time”. I also have the tendency to like open-world games more because I do activities almost methodically. I would spend hours just going from district to district and completing every single side mission, collectible or what have you until the map was completely clean. Like with a game such as Mad Max that was widely criticized for having monotonous activities, I enjoyed myself immensely going from area to area and completing everything. That was fun for me. While I’m in full agreement that the activities didn’t have a lot of substance to them, I didn’t find doing them boring at all which was the opposite of what some critics felt.

For me personally I like the juxtaposition I got going on within the games I like to play. I play the high action, super intense stuff all the time, but I also take a few moments to play something a little more mindless and methodical to take my mind off the problems in my life and also just to relax a bit. I like to be able to save the known galaxy while blowing through alien scum with my massive beam cannon and I also like watering my radishes and kissing my virtual wife goodbye as I leave for the market (bring on the weebo comments, I don’t give a fuck).

As gamers we are different in many ways. Some of us enjoy the thrill of the moment in multiplayer games such as Call of Duty or Dota. Some of us like to take a bit of a break from the world and do something a little bit boring for a while. Some of us like experiencing narratives in new and interesting ways. Some of us can enjoy a little bit of everything. It’s the beauty of being human. We don’t all like the same things and that’s perfectly okay. If you enjoy driving in a virtual truck or having a 100 day playtime in an MMO, then bless you. As long as you do something you enjoy.

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MG Thabo

MG Thabo

Guest Contributor
Marko has played way too many games, listened to way too many metal albums and is probably taller than you. He is a qualified language and communication practitioner and likes to write about the good things in gaming.
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