Mid-Day Discussion: Tedium As Game Mechanic


Posted February 1, 2010 - By Stephen Johnson

Mass Effect 2 Mining

Is it ever okay for a game to be tedious?

I've been playing Mass Effect 2 pretty much non-stop since it came out, and this morning, I ran across this article from Game Informer that basically says the game's mineral scanning is boring and out-of-place. it's a good point, but I disagree. It is definitely a change in tone to go from high-flying space swashbuckling to spending a half an hour (real time)  meticulously scanning a distant planet for ore, but I like it.

Sure, it's a little boring, but it's not too boring, and overall, planet scanning adds to ME 2's immersiveness. It's like grinding in a traditional RPG or MMO; planet scanning gives that same sense of hard-earned, incrimental reward, but unlike grinding in Azeroth, it's optional. Sure, it allows for some upgrades, but you don't need the best weapons to win -- you'd be fine with the guns you start with, actually.

The idea of sending probes to distant orbs gives some meaning to the vastness of the distances traveled from planet to planet, a sense of time passing and of a universe that exists outside of the dramas of you and crew-mates. I like it. Like picking herbs in World of Warcraft, it goes from boring to addictive pretty quickly.

What do you think? Have you been scanning planets? Are you enjoying it?

Mid-Day Discussion: Tedium As Game Mechanic