icycalm wrote:And what is "meta-game" supposed to mean?
People talk about meta-games a lot. Do they exist?
I can think of three main ways this term is often used.
1. Peeling the Onion
When a player first plays Tetris, he tries to get good at quickly solving many small problems. Namely, "where should I put this piece?" and eventually "given the next piece, where should I put this piece?". Eventually, though, he can arrive at a system which is guaranteed to always work. At this point, he is simply reacting to the stream of blocks according to some fixed set of rules.
Some people call this higher-level reasoning about an algorithm that "solves" the decision-making part of the game (reducing it to a reflex game) "meta-game".
2. Know your Enemy
Adversarial games with human opponents are rarely played in a vacuum. Poker might be the easiest example of this. Good poker players first learn the probabilities, then the game-theoretical optimal plays, and finally become good at reading (or knowing) individual players. Some people call the third part "meta-game". An extreme example is a player who always folds. Optimal play in this case is to always bet. Against other (particularly, optimal) players a different strategy is best. Since none of this is part of the rules of poker, is it "meta-game"?
3. Community Impact
I always hear StarCraft players talking about "meta-game". Specifically, they refer to community-wide trends and innovations as "meta-game". A player will discover some new Zerg build or something, and as it becomes popular other players will discover ways to counter it (if they exist), and people will call this whole process "meta-game".
There is a fourth possible interpretation that does not get mentioned as much. When MMORPG players buy and sell characters and items for real money, is that "meta-game"? I have heard it called that.
Do meta-games exist? Is it a meaningful term? In what sense?