How to be a Good Gamer: Meta Gaming

Meta gaming at its core simply means to think outside the bounds of a game and use it to your advantage. This can take on several different forms that we’ll be going over. Think of meta gaming as an opposite to role-playing in which instead of taking on the role of the character you’re playing as, you view the game as what it is which is a written construct that can be predicted and exploited.

First let’s talk about single-player meta gaming. Often times you may use meta gaming without even realizing it. If you read a gaming guide, or replay through a game knowing what’s coming, this is an example of meta gaming. But what if you haven’t read a guide or played the game before? Can you still use meta gaming? The answer is yes. Now above all other things, using meta gaming to your advantage takes a great deal of experience. It involves keeping an eye out for how the world and creatures of the game behave and respond and using it to your advantage. Some enemies blindly chase and this can be used to lure them into traps. Some spots can look suspicious and are likely to hold treasures. A large open room tends to foretell of a coming boss fight. And an enemy may fall for the same combo move nearly every time you use it. Over time if you continue to observe and note certain key clues and aspects of a game, that knowledge will become a weapon that can be used to make the game much easier. And the best part about this is this skill transfers from one game to another. You may hear some people talk about what they call a “gamer’s mindset” or a “gamer’s eye” in which they can somewhat accurately predict certain mechanics, events, and hidden things within a game they’ve never played simply based on the knowledge of other games they’ve played in the past.

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Now let’s talk about meta gaming for PvP games. If you’ve ever played games such as Gary’s Mod, The Jackbox Party Pack, or Among Us you’re no stranger to meta gaming as it’s a requirement for getting anywhere in those games. But meta gaming exists in all forms of PvP games. It boils down to either knowing or estimating what the other players have done, are doing, and will do. Let’s use shooters as our first example. At the beginning of the match you’ll start at the edge of the map with your team if you’re on one, and you can assume the other team are on the opposite edge of the map. If you’re not on a team you can assume each person is spaced apart around the edge of the map and that your nearest opponents are flanking either side of you. In the middle of the match you should have a general idea of who is sniping and where they like to camp, the area in which most of the bigger battles take place, which opponents are harder to take down, and if you’re observant you can find which routes see the most traffic. Using this knowledge, you can predict where you’ll find your opponents, the best hiding or flanking routes, and what weapons and/or vehicles will give you the biggest advantage. This is just an example, as you can also use similar methods for any PvP game such as fighting games, racing games, real-time strategy games, etc.

Another big part of meta gaming is knowing different gaming strategies, when you should use them, when others may likely use them, and how each strategy may be exploited. Next week we’ll talk about gaming strategies and I hope this knowledge helps everyone! Let me know if there’s any other games or elements of a game you need some tips on.

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