Tedious Terror

This article was published on 05/26/2008.

Tedium has long been a terrible enemy to gamers and game developers alike. Gamers were once a group that possessed limitless patience, allowing certain uncooperative developers to get away with all manner of foul play. However, the people of today aren't willing to put up with many annoyances. Developers have been forced to respond to this by joining the fight on tedium, even if it means striking the hand that feeds them. It's rare that you will you find a modern game with the level of tedium witnessed in the 1980s. Random encounters have been replaced with roaming enemies, game over screens no longer throw you back to the beginning, enemies tend to die far more quickly, menus are more streamlined, loading times have decreased, and so on. I'm going to list 5 things I find tedious in video games. This will be fun.

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1) There is nothing more tedious than grinding in a video game. In case you're not in the know, grinding is a term used to describe when a player repeatedly fights the same enemies over and over to acquire money, items, experience points, or anything else. This is most prevalent in role-playing games, but it can exist in any game. Grinding tends to be the least entertaining thing about any RPG. It's especially bad in massively multiplayer online role-playing games, where grinding is the star of the show. I can't think of anything more tedious than a game entirely based on grinding. These games literally sap at my sanity as I play them. That's why I don't play them. I can tolerate a little bit of grinding in games that generally aren't focused on it, but I can't sit down and do it for hours on end. The fact that other people can do this shouldn't encourage developers to force me into it, or force anyone else into it. I want to be able to play a game with the absolute minimum amount of grinding possible. That's to say, absolutely zero grinding.

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2) I've already mentioned random encounters up above, so I obviously should include it here. It's extremely tedious to fight the same battles over and over, which is what results from random encounters in most RPGs. It seems RPGs sure have a lot of tedious content in them, don't they? Perhaps it's unfair of me to include two tedious things from the same genre, but it can't be helped. RPGs are just really tedious, and this is one of the reasons why. RPGs these days don't usually have random encounters, but there are always a few that insist on keeping them around. I often avoid the ones that do. The worst thing about random encounters is when they are set to an extremely high frequency. This transitions them from being mild annoyances to excruciating skirmishes. When every step results in a battle with the same group of enemies, then you have a serious problem. Sometimes games will have a high amount of encounters, but the battles themselves rarely last long enough to get on your nerves. The inverse is a nirvana in suffering; battles that last an insanely long time and a high random encounter rate to boot. I drop these kinds of games like hot potatoes. I recommend you do the same.

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3) Mini-games can be and often are tedious. A mini-game is a short game within an overall longer game. It's a game within a game, if you will. An example of this would be a racing game in a game that isn't primarily about racing, a card game in a game that isn't about cards, etc. These mini-games are almost always not as well designed as the real game, so they tend to suck. The other thing that sucks about mini-games is how they act as distractions from the main game itself. I just want to play the actual game, not all these other cheap shovel ware games. What I do like about mini-games is that they are normally optional, which means you can totally ignore them. There are times, however, when completing mini-games is a requirement to progress further in the overall game. Those times are tedious. Developers sort of make a contract with gamers from the beginning of the game. If you buy an RPG, you know it's an RPG and will play like one. This contract gets broken when, all of a sudden, the game you were playing changes into another type of game altogether. It's a betrayal of trust between game developer and gamer. A platform game shouldn't force its players to play a racing or snowboarding game. If players wanted racing or snowboarding, they would simply play one of those games instead. In short, mini-games are tedious.

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4) Don't you find it irritating when you can't skip lengthy cut scenes? What happens if you die shortly after a long cut scene and you must watch it all over again? Yeah, it's not hard to see why this can become a problem. This is another one of those things that most games thankfully avoid by allowing players to skip cut scenes, but there are always exceptions to the rule. If you ever encounter those exceptions, then it becomes a tedious nightmare. Games with interactive cut scenes often face this problem, because skipping an interactive cut scene is like skipping regular game play. Interactive cut scenes can be fun, but the consequences of not being able to skip them far outweigh their benefits, in my opinion. Of course, some crafty developers do let you skip interactive cut scenes. In that case, everything is peachy keen. It's starting to become common for developers to even allow players to pause cut scenes, too. It goes without saying how tedious it can be to watch the same cut scene multiple times, so whatever developers do to prevent this is much appreciated.

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5) Boss fights that take forever are tedious, especially if fighting them requires adhering to a strict pattern. This is at its absolute worse when the boss has a huge health bar that you have to slowly chip away at. If you die during a long boss fight like this, then you'll have to start all over. It's normally not a big deal to restart a boss fight upon losing, but it is when the boss takes forever to defeat. Boss fights should be short and sweet, not long and tedious. The only way this can get any worse is when a long cut scene that you can't skip precedes the fight itself. That's just one bad thing lumped in with another. None of this really matters if you manage to beat these bosses on your first try, but developers can't just cross their fingers and hope all players beat every boss on the first go.

Word Count: 1,135

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