When does repetition become tedious?

Some things probably are objectively repetitive. A basketball player that practices by standing at the free throw line for hours, trying to sink shot after shot, is doing something that almost must be considered repetitive.

However, a basketball player that would do that would be hoping to GAIN something from the experience. In that case, obviously, to improve his free throw.

I think that’s the real distinction between something that is superficially repetitive, and something that is tedious. An experience is tedious if it has no challenge and nothing to teach, yet it drags on repetitiously.

So, once again, the standard of CHALLENGE is the important one. Whether or not something is tedious has little to do with whether you do one thing in a game, or two, or many. (Some misguided individuals may claim, for example, that Super Mario Bros. is repetitive, because “all you do is run and jump”)

When you play Punch-Out, while you have only a few moves to use, you are challenged to use those moves in different combinations, with different timings, with better reflexes, with different strategies. It is not tedious.

I have heard some people complain about R-Type, due to its checkpoint system, because having to replay part of the same level is “repetitive”. But the reason the game makes you do this is because it is trying to get you to learn the level. It is entirely analogous to practicing at any skill (like free throws) to improve. Once you have the skills needed to beat the level, you can beat it, and quickly, too. It is not tedious.

On the other hand, what is Wind Waker trying to teach by having you sail for minutes at a time, while nothing else happens? It is not a challenge. It isn’t anything. After you’ve done it a few times and have gotten whatever point there was to get from the experience, you have to do it again and again. It always takes too long. It is tedious.

You can do other things in Wind Waker, from sorting the mail, to fighting enemies, to carrying around pigs. But whenever you are sailing, sailing will be tedious.

In Final Fight 2, you can beat any enemy, or even any group of enemies, by jumping kicking back and forth. After you know this, there is no challenge in having to execute this simple strategy over and over. You do not need to use any variations in executing this strategy. You theoretically could use other moves, such as punches or throws, but no challenges are based around this. And even after you have the ability to beat the game, the game still takes forever. It is tedious.


(Original Context)