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The Flow of Grind in Destiny

How I learned to stop worrying and love the Metagame in Bungies 500M$-Shlooter.

For decades I was a firm opponent of Grinding in Videogames. This was the reason that as soon as I touched any game that looked like it would put me in a treadmill to open the doors to more treadmills, I would scream out „thou shalt not grind“ and let it slip like a hot potatoe.

Diablo 3 was fun for the 20 Minutes the Demo lasted, after that my aching index finger urged me to abandon it, and I obeyed. The Old republic was Fun for 20 Minutes when I thought: yeah, no lightsabercollection in the galaxy is worth putting me through this atrocious point-and-click combat.

And now Destiny has challenged all these dearly hold beliefs of mine.

Destiny has earned a somewhat notorious reputation by being called „the best mediocre game you will ever play“, it was called a Hypewreck, a waste of Talent (emmy-graded Actors recite senseless lines in a monotonous voice) and an empty universe with not much to do in it but shooting for hours at not too bright, infinitely spawning AI, to get the Chance for randomized Loot. From an analytics standpoint, I can`t even argue with that. But the story gets weirder: if you  talk to someone or read posts on the Bungie forum even the most toxic Haters tend to sound like this: „Bungie you lied to us, you promised us a rich cinematic universe and gave us this shell, I hate your game. Still play it on a regular basis, but when „game xyz“ comes out, you will see your numbers dwindle. What a waste of 500M $! (game xyz is out, but the hater is still on the forum)“ or „Bungie, I have done all there is to do in your game in the first week, I want  a refund (someone pointing out he has put over 100 hours in it, so he got his moneys worth easily) because conspiracy-video 137 on youtube says I got scammed by Bungievision.“

This is a common denominator: I hate your game, but love playing it.

Why is that?

" I could sit here and complain all day long about what Destiny doesn't do. But what it DOES do is so good, I keep coming back to it. " (from a random post)

Before I start explaining why I would put the seemingly contradictory terms „flow“ and „grind“ together in one phrase, lets look at the definitions.

„In positive psychology, Flow, also known as Zone, is the mental state of operation in which a person performing an activity is fully immersed in a feeling of energized focus, full involvement, and enjoyment in the process of the activity.“

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Flow_%28psychology%29

Grinding is a term used in video gaming to describe the process of engaging in repetitive tasks during video games…Grinding is a controversial subject among players. Many do not enjoy it, and disparage it as a symptom of poor or uninspired game design. Others embrace it, claiming that all games feature grinding to some extent, or claim to enjoy the practice of regular grinding.“

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Grinding_%28video_gaming%29

McNeill has a great article here on Gamasutra, that goes more indepth on the Subject (http://www.gamasutra.com/blogs/EMcNeill/20140721/221443/Grinding_and_the_Burden_of_Optimal_Play.php )

For the two seemingly contradictory terms to bond together we need a third one: the Metagame. The Metagame is usually sth like: get your character to the highest Level possible in the shortest amount of time, get a KD of +2.0 in the Crucible (the PvP of Destiny), be the first group to do the Raid, be the first one to solo Atheon (Endboss oft he Vault of Glass-Raid in Destiny).

While some of the Metagames in a Videogame can be foreseen by the Developers and channeled into some sort of Leaderboards, some are not and I will reason that here lies  biggest Potential of Destiny: letting the players creatively bend its rules and discovering new emergent gameplay, even in ways developers might be forced to surpress.

 

Some Metagames currently in Destiny:

-Finding the perfect Lootcave (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jIouOd1kFrQ )

-Getting the 7th Raidchest to spawn (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7ItBlK2BA74 )

-Experimenting on Gorgons with the relic (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nst7XXr_dHU )

-Soloing the Templar (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nP-v2FsDOd8 )

-Chestruns (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zEdiV7gRRF8 )

-Mythbusting (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3BrXRHx2z2o )

-Exploring hidden Areas (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wz-YWeKyP4c )

-Jumping over the Hellmouth (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1EASCaDb76I )

 

These are only the most prominent. But there are Dozens of others, more mundane like: Closing 3 overlapping Bounties with one shot, finishing a Daily under 5 Minutes, soloing a Nightfallstrike.

I usually get the most creative ideas about new Metagames during farming/grinding for materials in a group, and these grinding sessions are in way as "productive, joyful" to me as doing the Endgamecontent.

Destiny helped me to become a more "autotelic" Player.

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