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EVE Online is one of the most successful MMO's in the world, but not because it's simply more exciting than other games, though. Lead designer Kristoffer Touborg says that the "boring" aspects of the game are part of its appeal, too.
" I think trying to reinvent the wheel is sometimes a little bit crazy, but I really love to take mundane things—once you’ve put them into a game environment, for some reason, they become fun," Touborg told PC Gamer. "Like hauling minerals across EVE: it’s viciously boring, but people still spend eight hours a day doing something [in real life] and then they go haul minerals in EVE."
"I met a truck driver who did this. He drove a truck in real life, and when he got home he drove a space truck. There’s so many real things that we think of as mundane, but they become great game features."
The reason gamers find these activities fun, Touborg says, is that they like low-intensity gaming experiences. It's a change of pace from a lot of other games out there.
"Part of it, I think, is that people like boring. Or, well, maybe low effort, maybe low risk stuff. I used to do some of the really boring stuff just because you know that at the end of the road there’s some reward. Trading, for example, is relatively low risk, but you make the money and it feels good. Seeing your bank account go up."
"I think that not every game was meant to be Counter-Strike. Not everything has to be twitch action-based, super-intense, in-the-zone, adrenaline rush 24/7. Everybody complains about mining, but I think it’s the finest hangover feature you could ever do. I’d just switch the miner on, I’d watch sports on Sunday and be hungover and eat pizza. I think that’s great. Not everything has to be super wild."
It probably helps that activities like mining have concrete goals and rewards in a game environment. The appeal of "grinds" in various MMOs is that they provide a steady, clear path of progression. The fact that you can pursue these goals while nursing a hangover, well, that's nice too.