BySimon Rune Knudsen, writer at
A tryhard person enthusiastic about dad rock and weird beers.
Simon Rune Knudsen

Grinding. To reduce something to small particles or powder by crushing it over and over again. Used to describe dull work, initially referring to the daily grind of people working particularly uninteresting and hard jobs that slowly grinds their souls to dust.

Pretty depressing. Though any person enthusiastic about knows that the word might also refer to something similar in the digital world. A session of particularly repetitive gameplay that can yield great rewards and benefits if you're able to endure the drudgery of the task.

Most aren't, as grindy gameplay isn't really something that's sought after. It has become a dirty concept, since you, after all, don't want to feel like you're wasting your free time completing a genuinely unpleasant task.

The Most Insane Grinds In Gaming History

Though in many games grinding plays an integral and in some cases crucial part. Early MMORPGs have a reputation for particularly gruelling grindy gameplay, and the Korean kind are of especially ill repute. They lull you into a sense of enjoyment and false importance, and suddenly you find yourself having spent 300 hours completing a meaningless achievement with an urgent need to rethink your priorities in life.

But even though grinding is, for the most part, boring, it has a sort of meditative value to it. You can sit there in your favorite gaming chair, listen to Dust In The Wind while murdering a particular kind of boar in the thousands or mining some obscurely named mineral on the 11th hour. And it simply feels peaceful.

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That's why we've made this list. To remember and honor the games that set a standard so other grindy games could only look at them in fearful awe and concern. Games that were so repetitive and addictive, your psychiatrist would advise against playing them, unless you wanted to end up like the guy out of an Albert Camus novel.

Let's get to it. Ranked from the mildly maddening to the mind-shattering, these grinds distorted your sense of reality, life, the universe and everything.

8. Getting The Exotic Weapon You Want In 'Destiny'

The ultimate trickster. [Credit: Bungie]
The ultimate trickster. [Credit: Bungie]
  • How long does it take: Anywhere from 1 to ∞ weeks
  • Mindlessness rating: 4/10

Strange Coins, the currency used for purchasing exotic weapons in Destiny, are pretty easy to obtain. Do some Nightfall Strikes, enter the Crucible, complete World Events and turn in bounties, and you'll quickly gather a nice little stash of the weird alien currency.

The problem here doesn't lie in the hardship of grinding the coins themselves, but rather with the actual seller of exotic weapons and armor. Xur, the Agent of the Nine, is a shady, tentacle-faced vendor who only shows up a couple days a week in the game's safe havens. And it seems he just brings whatever random merchandise he could drag out the door.

Want that Red Death really bad? Got the Strange Coins? Well you might just have to wait two months for Xur to actually bring the damn thing. Most of the time, you'll end up spending your coins on something else in sheer frustration, with the result of you having to grind them all over again to make sure you'll be able to buy the Red Death, when Xur (hopefully) brings it next week. It's a diabolical system.

7. Gathering The Celestial Weapons In 'Final Fantasy X'

[Credit: Square Enix]
[Credit: Square Enix]
  • How long does it take: Depends on you chocobo riding skills
  • Mindlessness rating: 3/10

Most of the Celestial Weapons in Final Fantasy X are somewhat easy to get. The problem is getting The Venus Sigil for Lulu's The Onion Knight and the Caladbolg for Tidus. The process of obtaining these involves a lot of tiresome hours unless you're a very skilled chocobo-rider or lightning strike-dodger.

To earn Tidus' Celestial Weapon you have to complete a chocobo race in what at first seems like an impossible time. After doing it the first time, you might just be convinced that whatever guide you're following is trolling you. Surely, they can't seriously mean you have to complete the thing with a timer bellow zero?

But they are, as you'll find out soon enough. Which is insane and rage-inducing beyond imagination and can take a lot of time.

Oh, and to get Lulu's weapon? Dodge 200 utterly random lightning strikes in a row. It's even worse.

6. Earning All Gold Licenses In 'Gran Turismo 3'

What is this car? [Credit: Polyphony Digital]
What is this car? [Credit: Polyphony Digital]
  • How long does it take: Hundreds of hours
  • Mindlessness rating: 6/10

Driving a car is easy, but driving a shitty car very fast while staying on the road is nearly impossible. This is what Gran Turismo 3 taught us. In the game, you regularly had to obtain licenses to compete in the high-end competitions, and to get these you had to complete a series of driving tests in predetermined and rather terrible cars.

You didn't need to achieve the Gold-rating to actually get the licenses though. Silver and bronze was perfectly fine to get you through the game. But some humans are perfectionists and others just really like gold, which forced them into obtaining the Gold-rating in every single license-category in the game.

An enormous feat that reflects an impressive lust for unreal life, since you had to know every detail of every car used during the licenses to have a sliver of a chance of grabbing the gold.

5. Achieving "The Insane" Title In 'World of Warcraft'

[Credit: Blizzard Entertainment]
[Credit: Blizzard Entertainment]
  • How long does it take: Hundreds of hours
  • Mindlessness rating: 8/10

The road to achieving this title has changed a lot over the years, and it has gradually become easier and easier to be deemed insane by Blizzard. Back in the day though, the pains you had to endure to get this title were literally on an insane level.

First off, you had to kill around 20,000 NPCs to raise your reputation with a couple of goblins and pirate factions to exalted. Some of these NPCs were on a pretty long respawn timer, so you'd spend a lot of time waiting around as well.

After that, you'd run the same instance for no less than 60 hours, gathering specific items along the way. Then, you'd level a rogue to 60, if you weren't a rogue already, to be able to pickpocket around 6000 mobs for lockboxes to get exalted the Ravenholdt Faction.

Oh, and to finish things off you would have to create approximately 1680 Darkmoon Card decks. To afford this, you basically had to be in the top 1 percent of WoW-players, and it would still bankrupt you.

4. Levelling Skills In 'Eve Online'

[Credit: CCP Games]
[Credit: CCP Games]
  • How long does it take: Years
  • Mindlessness rating: 4/10

Eve Online is a special game for a special kind of human being, and the skill system in the game reflects that. Basically your skills gradually and very slowly level up as you use them in-game and you can't do much to up the pace besides play the game once in a while.

Measured on sheer time needed, this is the longest grind out of any on the list. But the fact that it actually doesn't require a lot of effort since the skills level themselves, makes the grind a little less intimidating.

Still though, Eve Online has been out for almost 14 years and no one has maxed out their skills yet. According to nerdy calculations, it takes around 20 years to do so, which means that the first person will be maxed out skill-wise in May 2023. Given Eve Online still exists and someone actually bothered to play the same game for 20 years.

3. Maxing Skills In Old 'RuneScape'

[Credit: Jagex]
[Credit: Jagex]
  • How long does it take: Years
  • Mindlessness rating: 7/10

RuneScape is one of the great bastions of grindy gameplay, especially the older versions of the game which were great at forcing you into dull tasks that made you ponder what makes life valuable.

Back then, levelling your skills to the max level of 99 took a lot of time. And when I say a lot of time, I don't mean it took like a large number in seconds or minutes. No, grinding your way to 99 in just one of the skills in Runescape would take anywhere from 1 to 10 days, depending on the specific skill, and getting all of them there took years of tree-chopping, campfire-building and brainless mining.

2. Becoming High Warlord Or Grand Marshal In Vanilla 'World of Warcraft'

[Credit: Blizzard Entertainment]
[Credit: Blizzard Entertainment]
  • How long does it take: Six months
  • Mindlessness rating: 10/10

Anyone who played Vanilla will remember these great giants of WoW-players, champions of PVP gameplay and masters of the no-life world. Living by the Highlander motto "There can be only one", players who managed to become High Warlord (Horde) or Grand Marshall (Alliance) had the honor of being the only ones on their server able to hold that particular title and get the epic weaponry that followed.

And the price for this honor? Six months of maddening PVP action, playing Warsong Gulch, Arathi Basin and Alterac Valley over and over again, 16 hours a day, everyday, until you reached the eternal glory of being Rank 14.

You couldn't rest or take a break from the PVP insanity since someone else would overtake your place as the one earning the most Honor Points on the servers. On top of that you had to have a loyal, very committed and skilled team of at least 10 other players to ensure you'd win every single battleground. Aaaand you had to be sure not to kill any low-level NPCs, since a Dishonorable Kill would set your progress back a couple of months.

Literally not possible for people working even a part-time job or going to school.

1. Levelling In Old School Korean MMOs

Don't let the cute looks fool you. These are the faces of the devil. [Credit: Wizet]
Don't let the cute looks fool you. These are the faces of the devil. [Credit: Wizet]
  • How long does it take: Forever
  • Mindlessness rating: 10/10

If there's one thing Korean MMOs have in common it is their outrageous approach to levelling. In these games, it is not uncommon for you to not be able to reach the final levels because it would take more time than you have. Like, you would die of old age before you reach max level. Which might seem weird from a western point of view, but it's apparently totally normal and understandable by Korean standards.

Anyway, some of the prime examples of Korean games that involve record-breaking amounts of grinding are Maplestory, Silkroad, Ragnarok Online and Lineage 2. In these, the idea of reaching the next level is like a distant dream. The only way to realize this dream is to kill a ridiculous amounts of monsters and bandits, since the Koreans aren't big on rewarding XP for completing quests.

That would, after all, be too easy and actually allow you to complete the game in this lifetime without the help of unnatural life-prolonging technology. There's no fun in that.

What's the worst grinding experience you've ever had in a game?


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