By Alex Kierkegaard / November 7, 2014
Let's get this one simple idea out of the way, and by doing so condemn entire categories of games and methods of playing games so that we won't have to take them seriously or even so much as bother with them again. Let's start first with the relevant definitions.
What is meta-gaming? It is exiting the game and performing certain actions outside of it in order to return later and use the results of these actions to progress inside the game.
What is mini-gaming? It is restricting yourself to a small subsection of the game and devoting the overwhelming majority of your time to that little subset of it, to the neglect, or even outright exclusion, of all the rest.
Now that we have these definitions, the problem with these categories of games and methods of playing games become readily apparent. Meta-gaming destroys the immersion which is precisely a videogame's purpose to create, by sending you outside the game, instead of doing everything it can to keep you inside it, while mini-gaming renders the majority of the game's possibility space useless, and thus superfluous and worthy of being destroyed (which is to say of not being included in the game in the first place). When meta- or mini-gaming occur, therefore, it is either the fault of the player or the developer.
So that when a player meta-games there are two possibilities:
1. Either the player is a wretched little aspie with zero life experiences and accomplishments who will stop at nothing in order to feel that he is superior to other human beings — not even at destroying the game he claims to love by the various absurd methods I analyzed in the previous essay.
2. The developer made a shitty game that is practically unplayable without some sort of guide or cheat (as e.g. many adventure games of old), or at the very least with bullshit nonsensical autistic mechanics (as in many modern shooting and fighting games, for example) for which no one in the world would actually bother to try to discover their strategies if a handful of autists hadn't devoted their entire pathetic little lives to finding them and spreading them around.
And when a player mini-games there are two other, rather similar to the above, possibilities:
1. Either the player is a complete and utter fuckfaced retard who would rather play Space Harrier in Shenmue instead of Shenmue (or instead of firing up Space Harrier in the first place).
2. The developer made a shitty overall game, but placed a decent, or at any rate a better, mini-game inside of it, so that the player will naturally tend to gravitate towards it and spend most of his time on it.
Meta-gaming tends to be the player's fault, while with mini-gaming it's generally the developer's, but as I've already noted above there are also exceptions. However, we must emphasize that just because it sometimes makes sense to meta-game (as with e.g., looking up the solution to a stupid illogical adventure game puzzle, in order to get past it, and presumably to reach the less illogical and more enjoyable parts of the game that lie ahead), it is still better TO SKIP THE GAME ENTIRELY AND PLAY A BETTER ONE THAT DOESN'T REQUIRE CHEATING INSTEAD. In the same way, playing a mini-game inside a game when the main game sucks is definitely a better idea than sticking to the main game, but since, as I've already explained at length in a previous essay (Mini-games are for Mini-gamers, Videogame Culture: Volume I), mini-games suck, an even better idea is TO QUIT THE SHITTY GAME ALTOGETHER AND FIND A BETTER ONE TO PLAY INSTEAD.
The shortcomings of any given game you might be playing, in other words, CANNOT BE USED AS AN EXCUSE AND A JUSTIFICATION FOR CATEGORIES OF GAMES AND METHODS OF PLAYING GAMES WHICH ARE INHERENTLY BORING, DEGENERATE AND RETARDED. And the bottom line of this essay and of our theory of videogames with regards to these categories of games and methods of playing games is that we are interested in neither META- nor MINI-gaming, we are interested in GAMING, and all the rest are for fagets. For scummy, stupid, stunted, cheating, neckbearded, effeminate, wretched, hypocritical, and autistic li'l fagets.