10 worst ways to spend your time in a game

Sewer level
The tedium of the sewer level

Outside of games there's this thing called work.

Work tends to be done in the form of a job and it can often be menial, demanding, dangerous and a hundred other kinds of no fun whatsoever.

It is perhaps a sad reflection on the progress of games towards simulating reality that this drudgery is no longer confined to our working hours.

Here are some of the worst offenders for when games just forget to be fun.

10. Living in the Zone

Though buggy it is hard to deny the quality of both STALKER games, Shadow of Chernobyl and Clear Sky, although both offer a somewhat unique gaming experience; that of eking a living in a miserable and hostile radioactive wasteland.

There is no happiness in the Zone. No joy. Soon you get so used to the misery and squalor that the moment after a kill when you get to rummage through your foe's meagre possessions feels like Christmas morning.

The zone

MISERY: Home sweet Zone. Don't worry, if the monsters don't get you the radiation sickness will

9. Social networking

Although GTA 4 brought with it some excellent characters they are a needy bunch if ever there was one. Want to go for a beer? Can you take me to a show? Want to play darts?

It seems ironic that in a game where you can kill practically everybody you encounter the people you can't kill are the ones you most want to.


WHAT NOW? Ah, Cousin Roman, please, be more needy

8. Building a base

The staple of real time strategy games for so long was base building. Thankfully it has fallen somewhat out of favour recently, but the history of the genre is littered with rubbish bases.

Build this rectangular thing so you can create that, upgrade that so you can get this bonus, build a generator of some sort and so on.

This is not a problem in some games where the decision of what to build in what order can determine strategy, but for many, when base building is just an arbitrary process that does nothing but delay a good scrap, it's a chore.

Building bases

BASE BUILDING: Woo! I've built a base. That was a lot more fun than killing bad guys

7. Level grinding

A great many games have a level based character advancement process without diminishing the fun - usually these games are single player RPGs where the completion of the story is the goal. Online RPGs, particularly MMORPGs, tend to focus on the character as the goal.

A good MMORPG will give you a story, quests, plots and other players to kill and by the time you have exhausted these you find yourself at maximum level, a bad MMORPG will make you stand in a field clubbing monsters while the minutes turn to hours, the hours turn to days and your soul withers and dies like a prune.

Levelling up

THE GRIND: Levelling up was so much fun in Hellgate London they had to shut the game down

6. Harvesting

This is another staple of the MMO genre; running around the countryside gathering things to use for crafting. This is pretty much the sort of thing that so often in the real world gets done by illegal immigrants because most people consider it demeaning. Done for free, in a video game, it's all part of the fun.