1. What is Metagaming?
Metagaming refers to a strategy in gameplay where a player’s decisions are influenced by external knowledge or information not available to their character or within the game’s universe. This external knowledge often pertains to the game’s broader tactics, trends, and environment (the “meta”), rather than its inherent rules and mechanics.
2. What are The Roots of Metagaming?
The term metagame has evolved in its usage over time. Initially, it was merely a game outside of another game. However, in contemporary gaming circles, the term metagame often implies the prevalent or most effective strategies in a game’s community. If you head over to forums or Reddit, you’d find numerous analyses and discussions revolving around the current metagame.
3. How Does Metagaming Manifest in Different Video Game Genres?
Metagaming varies across game genres and scenarios. By examining specific instances, we gain insight into its influence on gameplay and player choices. Here are some examples:
Metagaming in RPGs (Role-Playing Games)
In role-playing games, particularly tabletop versions like D&D (Dungeons and Dragons), metagaming can be a point of contention. It’s when a player uses knowledge that their character wouldn’t possess. For instance, if a player knows from a forum that a troll attack is imminent but their in-game character has no way of knowing it, and they still prepare for it, that’s metagaming.
Among Us and the Rise of Metagaming
The game “Among Us” saw a surge in popularity, and with it, a rise in metagaming strategies. Players often discuss the game on platforms like Reddit, sharing common strategy to deduce the impostor. However, some argue that this goes beyond the core mechanics and the spirit of the game, transforming the experience entirely.
First-Person Shooters and Map Exploits
In first-person shooter games like Valve’s “Counter-Strike,” players might use knowledge acquired from forums or streams to discover unintended spots or glitches on the map. These loopholes allow them to spectate enemies without being seen themselves or to move faster. Such tactics, gained from outside the game’s core mechanics, epitomize metagaming.
MOBAs and Counter-Picking
In Multiplayer Online Battle Arenas (MOBAs) like “League of Legends,” the meta heavily influences the hero selection phase. Players might choose heroes based not just on their inherent stats but on the prevalent strategies discussed on platforms like Reddit. Counter-picking dominant characters currently favored in the gaming community is a classic metagaming tactic.
Survival Games and Player Interactions
In survival games like “Rust,” alliances or raids might form based not just on in-game interactions, but on outside the game knowledge. A player might attack a base not because they found it during their in-game exploration but because they saw its location during a spectating session or on a stream.
Battle Royale and Equipment Meta
In Battle Royale games like “Fortnite,” certain weapons or gear might become meta due to their perceived strength in the current edition of the game. Players, equipped with this outside the game knowledge, might prioritize these items, changing the gameplay experience.
MMORPGs and Economy Manipulation
In MMORPGs like “World of Warcraft,” players can hack the in-game economy using meta knowledge. They might hoard items, known to be valuable in an upcoming expansion, after getting a tip from a forum or Reddit. Once the update rolls out, they exploit this knowledge for in-game profit.
4. Controversy of Metagaming
Metagaming vs. Cheating
This is a widely debated topic in the gaming community. While metagaming uses information and strategies from outside the game, does it equate to cheating? Players might argue that using a game’s forum to understand the concept better is just being thorough, while others see it as bad form, especially when the player uses information the character wouldn’t have access to.
The Role of Spectating in Metagaming
Live spectating in games like Valve’s multiplayer offerings adds another layer to the metagame. It can be used as a tool to understand the opponent’s strategy ahead of time, sometimes leading to upset outcomes. However, it’s also an invaluable tool for new players to learn, balancing the pros and cons.
5. Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) About Metagaming
What’s the difference between ‘metagaming’ and ‘meta’?
While ‘metagaming’ refers to the act of using external information in gameplay decisions, ‘meta’ is more about the prevailing strategies in a game. The term meta has its roots in ‘metagame’ but is widely used to signify the best strategies or characters in a game at any given point.
Are all forms of metagaming frowned upon?
Not necessarily. In many gaming circles, metagaming is just seen as thorough preparation. However, in role-playing circles, especially in games like D&D, using out-of-character (OOC) knowledge can be considered in bad taste.
Can metagaming occur outside of video games?
Absolutely. Games like chess have a meta, where players study past games and strategies to better their own gameplay. Even card games have a strategic layer outside the direct game mechanics.
How do game developers address metagaming in their games?
Many developers design their games with the metagame in mind. They often update game mechanics, stats, and characters to ensure no single strategy can prevail for long, ensuring a dynamic and evolving gameplay environment.
Is there a way to completely eliminate metagaming from games?
Eliminating metagaming entirely would be challenging. As long as players discuss, share, and analyze games outside of the gameplay itself, the metagame will exist. The key is to strike a balance, ensuring metagaming doesn’t overshadow the core game experience.