Turning Boredom into Quasi-Meditation Through Turn-Based RPG Combat
So ya' hate vintage 8/16-bit RPG Games....and can't quite understand why someone in your life enjoys spending hours performing the same repetitious "chore" of beating up pixelated baddies on a nearly stagnant playfield for hours upon hours on end....

Or maybe you yourself are looking for a way to turn your retro-gaming hobby into a relaxational exercise. You know one out of every four doctors suggests NOT being behind a screen before going to sleep, let me explain to you why this activity is the EXCEPTION to the rule.

Welcome to The Zen and Art of Grinding. If you came here to find out how to get more touches in a Night Club, then you came to the wrong place. Here we are talking about the time honored JRPG Act since Dragon Quest known as "Grinding".....but not the one you are thinking of (seriously f***boy Jim, GET OUTTA! HERE!), of course we are talking about finding zen and relaxation in the otherwise tedious task of repeatedly beating up digital bad guys for gold and experience, and who knows, maybe this philisophical bit, might help someone, or help them understand why someone in their life enjoys this.

Grinding is a required task in most old 8-bit and 16-bit Role Playing video games. We're talking games like Dragon Quest, Final Fantasy, even some Ultima games. And the further back you go to a point, there a lot of it.

What does Grinding look like? Well, the player sits at a computer or TV screen, sometimes for hours on end, doing the same repitious activity, only stopping to go to the bathroom, get food/drinks, and to go back into town to sleep at an inn in game, save the game, heal up in game, and buy the new armaments that the player was grinding to get in the first place, of course, in game. This usually continues ad nauseum until the player either gets called to fulfill obligations by his housemates - familial or romantically involved or otherwise - or decides to do something else, including and up to falling asleep and driving themselves (and anyone else in the house) nearly insane listening to the same battle or overworld theme for hours until they wake up from their Zen-induced naptime.

What you are witnessing, is the Zen and art of Grinding. The vast mastery of turning a boring video game task into a rewarding, relaxing past-time. Something most normal people cannot at all grasp, as they are used to the instant rewards of modern video games, if they even play them, or the instant gratification, and not having to ever "wait" or exercise patience to recieve a reward. Remember the old saying "Good things come to those who wait" - that's kinda' what this is, except your "Waiting" is repetitiously beating up pixelated beasts with implied weapons, and taking mathmatically implied hits from aforementioned beasties.

So come with me now to this insane chillax world of kicking back in a chair with a Gatorade and some Pizza, and spending hours dispensing of pixelated smiley globs of toothpaste with a Bamboo Pole in the name of EXP and Gold!
Chapter I: The Mechanics of Grinding
"Grinding" - also known as "Leveling Up" or "Building Gold and Experience" - is the act of doing exactly that, building up the experience points and gold of a character in a role playing game in order to purchase more expensive (and supposedly better) weapons, armor, shields, and helmets, as well as gaining in experience levels so that the game mathmatically adds more points to each of your "stats" - aka "STATISTICS" - all in an ultimate effort to advance the plot and hopefully (someday) make it to end end of the game and beat up whatever proverbial foe is at the end (if such - that's not universal).

Kids today, they just complain about how the "old games" are "too grindy". They just don't understand that maybe, just maybe, there's a lesson in the middle of it, one that teaches you to enjoy the journey, no matter how monotonous, "boring", or "simple" it might seem to the naked eye. I'm almost thinking Dragon Quest should be forced learning - no, not the new mobile update - the original 8-bit version we got stateside as DRAGON WARRIOR. Noooo kids, it's not about a Ninja Panda Bear, it's about a little blue guy in a Viking helmet beating up globs of toothpaste with smiley faces with a bamboo pole for gold and experience.

The basic mechanic of grinding is that you go out of town, get in random encounters, beat up enemies until one or more of your important resources are depleted enough not to make going back to town a value-less endeavor.

The full mechanics are prioritizing and setting goals on what this grind-fest you are going on is for, picking a specific safe region to fight in, learn the enemies in the area, use that to your advantage to develop a "attack/defense loop" against the foes, modify that attack/defense loop as you level up and gain more power, and then determine when to move to a new area based on how easy the enemies are to kill in that area.

Prioritizing and setting goals is important to make it feel fun. In every video game, this is different. Having a goal helps set some bit of a window of time to grind. YOu might want a new weapon, or maybe you want to level up some more to move to the next town without getting killed by a harder villan, or maybe you have a plot point to drive forward by killing a very hard boss enemy. For example, in Ultima: Exodus, a lot of my grinding has a goal of obtaining more gold to spend at the Shrines in Ambrosia to power up my characters and obtain more spells or better Melee Combat, but in Dragon Warrior, it's usually a specific weapon or armor, or a specific item to advance the plot that's a goal.

Picking a speciic safe region can also be different depending on a game. Some games, like Dragon warrior IV, will block you from proceeding without meeting several clear, concise, objectives to open the door to advancement. On the other extreme you have a game like Ultima: Exodus, where basically, the safe zone becomes the whole overworld for the most part, depending on what level you are at, and whether or not you've been "Beyond the whirlpool".