Grinder has two very different meanings, depending on whether you are talking about a virtual environment, or about biohacking and a type of augmented reality:
In regards to virtual environments:
Grinder is another name for the experience treadmill, and hints at its less than happy nature. The experience treadmill is a common problem in gameworlds based on experience points. The whole focus of the user experience becomes focussed on the collection of XP, to the exclusion of everything else. Often new areas or items remain locked until a player has a set number of experience points.
This results in vastly increased player churn as people become sick of endlessly marching on the treadmill, and getting nowhere fast.
See Also: Experience , XP, EXP, Experience Treadmill
In regards to biohacking and the systems analysis approach to biology:
A grinder is essentially a transhumanist who has chosen to take the biohacking approach to transitioning away from a fully original human state.
Grinders implant smart prosthetic devices into their bodies, not to treat or cure existing malfunctions, but to enhance or upgrade the functioning of a healthy body to new levels. They use implanted or permanently worn biometric devices with feedback channels on their vital statistics – heart rate, blood sugar levels, blood hormonal levels, blood oxygen levels, urine content levels – basically anything a given individual grinder believes they can get an implant or worn device to track.
As a result, grinders tend to be supporters of severe body modification, and bio-punk advocates. As with other biohackers, they attempt to take control of the inner processes of their bodies, and be aware of, ideally, everything that's going on inside them at any given time. Where they tend to differ from other biohackers is in their attempts to upgrade themselves through biohacking, replacing bodily functions with superior systems where possible, in order to make themselves something more than human; Or at the very least, eliminate many of the flaws and odd 'design' decisions that plague the human form.
See Also: Biohacker, Biohacking, HRV, Biometrics, Smart Prosthetic, Transhumanism, Transhuman, Bio punk, Feedback Channel
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