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Grinding refers to the playing time spent doing repetitive tasks within a game to unlock a particular game item or to build the experience needed to progress smoothly through the game. Grinding most commonly involves killing the same set of opponents over and over in order to gain experience points or gold. Although other game genres require some grinding, role-playing games (RPG) – specifically massively multiplayer online role-playing games – are the most notorious for requiring this type of time investment from players.
A game level at which a lot of grinding is required may be called a treadmill level.
Requiring that players grind out experience points by fighting the same opponents over and over seems to run contrary to good game design. However, there are two elements to grinding that have made its inclusion inevitable in almost every RPG. These are:
Grinding can be tedious, but it gives players a reason to keep playing rather than giving up and walking away.