Grinding is a core part of gameplay across many genres, and it's something that most gamers will have to do an awful lot of. It's even a core mechanic in some games, such as Minecraft, where you have to spend most of the game collecting resources if you're playing in survival mode. While some games are balanced in such a way that grinding doesn't feel like a chore, other games make it a tedious and necessary part of gameplay. As such, it can be important to find ways to either embrace the monotony or to make it feel less boring.
After all, video games are supposed to be entertaining to play, and grinding can ruin the enjoyment for some players. Fortunately, the human mind can be manipulated into finding certain tasks interesting. We can borrow both from video game mechanics and real-life productivity tricks to make grinding feel less like a slog and more like an enjoyable part of gameplay.
7 Have A Specific Goal In Mind
This may seem obvious, but the more specific your goal is, the easier it will be to start tackling it. Instead of saying you want to make a lot of money in Stardew Valley, for instance, try figuring out what it is you specifically want to do. Perhaps you want to get a deluxe barn, which costs 43,000 gold to build from scratch (not including cost of materials as they can just be gathered).
This will allow you to take a divide and conquer approach, which, when paired with other tricks in this post, will make the grinding process easier.
6 Come Up With A Reward System For Yourself
Part of the reason why grinding gets so tedious is that it breaks the dopamine cycle that games have built into them. You’re given a challenge, you beat the challenge, you get an in-game reward, and your brain releases dopamine. This cycle is augmented by good sound and visual design, but grinding slows this cycle down to a near halt. The solution? To come up with your own reward system to keep yourself feeling accomplished.
You could set out a bowl of chips and eat one each time you kill an enemy in Elden Ring (just be careful not to get salt on your controller), or you could buy yourself a Pokemon plush when you finally catch that shiny you’ve spent ages trying to find. It’s up to you, the scope of your grinding goal, and what your brain responds best with. Generally, though, something tangible works best.
5 Play Music Or Listen To A Podcast
Often, when grinding through a specific section of a game, you’re listening to the same part of the soundtrack over and over again. While there are some great soundtracks out there, listening to the same piece on repeat can become tiring quickly. It can also lower your overall interest in what you’re doing. Since grinding isn’t a very entertaining thing to begin with, having something auditory to engage with can help you maintain your focus.
You can still do this without breaking the atmosphere of the game. If you’re spending hours fishing in Animal Crossing, then try listening to a lo-fi music live stream to keep the chill vibe going. On the other hand, if you’re trying to gather materials in Monster Hunter: World, why not listen to a podcast about dinosaurs?
4 Take Short Breaks
Grinding can sometimes become dull because of just how long it takes to do, and it can be difficult to stay focused on repetitive tasks for a long time without a break. Naturally, the solution is to take regular breaks, to have a quick stretch, get a drink or snack, or go to the washroom. You can also use these breaks to switch up your gameplay a bit, and add some variety.
How you space out these breaks is up to you. You could go for something shorter like every 25 minutes, and have short breaks to go along with it, or you can go for longer periods of gaming with longer breaks to balance it out.
3 Add Variety
As Civilization 4 lead designer Soren Johnson wrote (via Designer Notes), "given the opportunity, players will optimize the fun out of a game." Have you been going for the most efficient process when grinding in video games, in an attempt to get it over with as quickly as possible? You might be doing yourself a disservice if you have. While that will get you to your goal in the least amount of time possible, it can also make the experience feel like a slog. Adding variety to what you’re doing, such as battling against different enemy types, may make the grind take longer, but it will also trick your brain into thinking it hasn’t.
Would you rather spend one hour grinding in a game and have it feel like two? Or would you rather do two hours of grinding and have it feel like one? Be careful about falling into the trap of valuing rote efficiency over enjoyment of the game.
2 Bring A Friend Along For The Ride
Grinding with a friend can be a great way to make the experience enjoyable, and this isn’t a tip that’s exclusive to multiplayer games. Hanging out together and just talking while you farm XP can be a nice low-commitment way to catch up on each other's lives, and hopping into a voice chat on Discord can be good solution for friends who you can’t see in person.
Of course, being able to play a game with your friends is always a rewarding experience, and collecting resources in games like Minecraft or Animal Crossing: New Horizons can be a great bonding experience.
1 Learn The Efficient Way To Do Things
While rote efficiency and optimization can sometimes suck the soul right out of gameplay, some thought should still be put into how to efficiently get the work done. This is especially true if there's something deeper to the way things work in the game you're playing. As an example, shiny hunting in the Pokemon series can be a daunting task, but there are ways to shift the odds in your favor. In Pokemon Legends Arceus, for example, you can keep an eye out for Mass Outbreaks to increase your chance of finding a shiny.
Sometimes, learning the most efficient way to grind in a video game will involve looking at a guide online, or finding forum posts where other players have pooled their knowledge of the game's mechanics to figure out how to get the grinding done quickly. Don't be afraid to use online resources to help you figure things out.
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