I Don’t Like Repetitive Tasks in Gaming, or Do I?

I Don’t Like Repetitive Tasks in Gaming, or Do I?

Maybe you guys can help me out on this one. I have struggled explaining this to people for over a decade.

I do not like repetitive tasks. I don’t like doing the same thing over and over in a game… or do I? I can’t tell if I’m contradicting myself or misclassifying one of these groups.

The types of repetitive tasks I do not like:

  • Questing or the act of running and grabbing quests, running out and doing them, then returning for more quests
  • Daily quests or the act of coming back each day to repeat the same quest (or series of quests) as yesterday
  • Running the same dungeon over and over

The types of repetitive tasks I’m fine with or actually enjoy:

  • “Hunting” mobs in a zone or killing the same types of mobs over and over in a group
  • “Camping” a ‘camp’ of mobs and killing the same monsters that spawn in a set area
  • Harvesting resources all day in UO or Minecraft

Why do some of these seemingly mundane tasks bring me joy, and some of them bore me out of my mind?

Is it the game influencing which repetition I’m okay with and which kind I’m not? As I said, I don’t mind grinding the same mobs over and over in EverQuest. I have memories — even from a year ago — of sitting in camps of mobs for hours killing the same 20 goblins over and over. I have memories (again from just this past year or two) sitting in the same room of Unrest for days.

Why are those okay, but the very thought of grinding mobs (like the type of grinding in the Asian grinder model) or grinding daily quests is enough to make me physically ill? Again, I ask if it’s the game because I wonder if there’s a bigger picture that I allow myself to fixate on and ignore what’s happening in the here and now.

Is it the complexity of gameplay? Lots of Asian grinders are all about shallow combat. EQ was a little more complicated. Daily quests are mindless but camping a dungeon in EQ could be less so? I’m not sold on that one.

Solving this mystery may be the key to unlocking the future of MMORPGs.

What type of gamer am I? The kind who doesn’t like repetitive tasks in some games, but in others, who can’t figure out why that’s the case. Help!

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  • Perhaps it’s the fact that you don’t like to be told by the game to do these mundane tasks? You want the feeling that you’re doing it because it’s your choice to do so?
    Or maybe you just have a peeve with the fact that the game is trying to cover up this mundane tasks with some cheap weak story?
    I don’t know, but personally I hate grinding mobs without a quest attached, so I’m quite the opposite of you (again).

  • I don’t think you’ll be able to codify it. It’s a feels thing.

    I totally agree about the relative complexity and tactical aspect of breaking camps, pulling and holding a camp in EQ. It can feel a lot more intellectually stimulating than what we usually think of as “grinding”. On the other hand, I found running into packs of mobs in Black Desert and AEing them to death highly addictive.

    As for having a quest-related element, I always find it more satisfying to see a kill count ticking up against a quest when I grind mobs than *not* to see one. Why wouldn’t you? Consequently, even when playing EQ, even back in the old pre-task window days, I always preferred to camp mobs with a quest attached (gnolls for ears, orcs for belts etc etc) than to kill random wildlife.

    In the end, as I say, I think the enjoyment comes first and the explanation is post-hoc rationalizing for the most part. Some stuff in MMOs just feels fun to do and some doesn’t.

  • I dislike and like many of the same repetitive things as you, but maybe for different reasons, I don’t know. Here are my reasons:

    Quests – Lack of autonomy. I hate the games where the only/best way to level is to do signposted quests ad nauseam, ignoring the rest of the world, and making me feel like a bot could play the same game as long as it had good autopathing and clicked things.

    Too reliant on lousy RNG chances for bodyparts quests, too specific and restrictive, nothing makes me think “deliberate time-waster” than having to kill 41 goblin _berserkers_ (not barbarians, not mages) to pop 10 goblin leather cuffs. Oh, and only goblin berserkers in Niflheim Forest work, not the ones that randomly show up in Goblin Village.

    FedEx quests bore me to tears. Go to marked location A. Return to marked location B. Oh, I forgot something, please go to marked location C, then come back to B, and then A, with a stopover at D. Running is not captivating gameplay for me. If it’s not a marked waypoint quest, then it becomes mind-read-the-designer and hunt for the exact pixel location they want, or google a third party website for the marked waypoint. Neither are improvements.

    Optional daily quests I’m ok with, but the moment they move into compulsory for X or Y content territory, it turns game from game to chore or obligation, which also feeds back to lack of autonomy and is a recipe for burnout, hence disliked.

    Dungeon repetition – You and I probably differ on this one. I’m not very social a gamer. Anything that forces me (lack of autonomy, obligation leading to burnout) to group with a bunch of people, I am going to dislike.

    Especially if the behavior of those people is not within my control (time-wasted, lack of autonomy, possible exposure to negative behavior and bullying, even if not directed at me, playing at different skill levels leading someone to let other people down, me or otherwise, etc.)

    On the other hand, most mob grinding these days is self-chosen. I have decided (autonomy) that this pack of mobs must die and repeating of this killing helps me level more efficiently than normal (satisfaction of optimizing, min-maxing, discovery of a secret that few know about, etc.)

    Harvesting Minecraft resources is a similar thing. What type of resources do I need now? I must decide (autonomy.) I must plan how to get it back. I have a functional use for them so there is an ultimate purpose to collecting them, and it sates the need to collect and accumulate riches.

    I’ve not done mob camping very much so I can’t really comment, but I would ask about how likely the chances are for a mob camp to succeed over a dungeon. One possibility is that if there are multiple ways for mob camping to succeed, the social atmosphere is more relaxed and open to larger groups than a closed instance dungeon.

    Or it could be just that the tactics are more open and varied, I dunno.

    I like anything that lets me practice and play good feeling combat, hence the liking of repetitively killing mobs. Caveat, the game’s combat must feel good, not boring.

  • I think it’s a control thing and also Jeromai explains that perfectly. If you take away the options it becomes a chore. In most games there is one, MAYBE two quest hubs for your level all with tasks that have no choices in how they are done. That’s about as fun as emptying your dishwasher.

    With EverQuest you were certainly in control. You could choose where to go, usually from many, MANY different places and even getting there took planning. When you choose the task it’s no longer a chore. That would be one of my top likes. “I like to be in control”

    Even outside of gaming you see it. You will, in most cases, get better results by giving a child a few different choices for dinner rather than dropping a plate in front of them and telling them to eat up. They had a choice, and some control over the “adventure”.

    That’s why I think most quests suck, but camping mobs and gathering resources are great.

  • I feel the same way about the repetitive tasks you described. The former three are “adventure” shoved down my throat by the designers. The ladder are adventures that I am doing on my own…I am responsible for all of my fun. In the former, the designer tells you what is fun…and it is neat the first time around maybe…not on the second one though. In the ladder, I can actually use my own imagination, form my own adventure and unexpected things may happen or I may decide to do whatever I want.

  • As I’ve said before, the reason myself and most likely you enjoy repetitive tasks in games like EQ, DAoC or UO is because the game isn’t forcing you to do these repetitve tasks they are your choice to do and where to do them.

    When I’ve played EQ, AC, UO or DAoC we were just there to kill mobs but each game gave us a unique way of doing it and being able to do it in multiple places. It’s a game where you decide how, where and what you want to do to level. On the other hand you have a game like WoW that pretty much leads you by the nose every place you go to do tasks, tasks and more tasks. I hate being lead by the nose in a game, I would much rather play the game how I want too. WoW used to be more like older games but in the years that have followed it is now just about connecting the dots to questgivers and it’s boring.

  • I’ve played Final Fantasy XI for over 10 years, I feel the same way as you. FFXI was very repetitive, especially the end game. I remember my clan would camp NM also know has notorious monster.

    So let me explain quickly, NMs would pop once a day, it had a chance to pop every 30 minutes in a 4 hour window time, in addition you had to “Claim” this monster by quickly using an ability or spell on it, but the twist, you had to compete vs hundreds of people and some of them even used bots.

    Once you claimed this monster you had to actually kill it and then pray to god it actually dropped your item, then you had to roll and beat other people who wanted that item.

    That’s just one example of repetition in that game, there’s a lot more, it might explain my high level of patience I have today, oh well.