default header

Theory

On Meta-games

Moderator: JC Denton

On Meta-games

Unread postby bunuelo » 20 May 2009 10:22

http://culture.vg/forum/topic?p=4953#p4953

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?
bunuelo
Banned
 
Joined: 06 May 2009 03:31
Location: CA, USA

Unread postby JoshF » 20 May 2009 13:06

If it has anything to do with the game it would be a redundant term (because then you would call it... the game). Best guess is it's an attempt by artfags to have some profound/postmodern-sounding word whether it's redundant or nonsensical or not.
User avatar
JoshF
 
Joined: 14 Oct 2007 14:56

Unread postby Bradford » 20 May 2009 14:48

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Metagaming

There's not necessarily anything wrong with having a word to describe the conduct discussed in the Wikipedia article or in bunuelo's post, but using "metagame" as the term for it is pretentious. The prefix "meta" implies that the conduct lies beyond or outside of the game, which is stupid, because no one can define what a game is in the first place. Whatever the game is, it exists in the world, and is necessarily affected by other things in the world while it is being played, like the knowledge, emotions, etc. of the players, the events after and prior to the formal conduct of the game, and so on. Is physics a metagame of baseball? Is genetics a metagame of chess?
Bradford
 
Joined: 18 Jun 2008 18:11
Location: Orlando, Florida, USA

Unread postby JoshF » 20 May 2009 16:14

beyond the supposed limits or environment set by the game.

See, nonsense. How can there be rules outside the parameters of a game's rules? If they exist, wouldn't they be within the parameters? We're talking about video games here, not war (where the term originated). One of them isn't limited to a sequence of code on a disc. If it's on the disc, it's called "the game". Unless maybe these meta-rules are lost binary digits idly floating just outside the discs and cartridges that are somehow also activated when you turn the power on, and somehow work with the code on the disc or cartridge. That could explain why it's a recent trend, because we were inadvertently blowing away the mega-game when we blew all the dust out of our SNES games.
User avatar
JoshF
 
Joined: 14 Oct 2007 14:56

Unread postby losganados » 20 May 2009 19:49

Bradford wrote:because no one can define what a game is in the first place.

icycalm wrote: It would be good if you paid some attention to the articles I post on the frontpage -- I post them for a reason you know.

Jean Baudrillard wrote:
The world is a game.

http://forum.insomnia.ac/viewtopic.php?p=9778#9778
Last edited by losganados on 21 May 2009 01:53, edited 1 time in total.
losganados
 
Joined: 12 Mar 2009 04:06
Location: RI, USA

Unread postby icycalm » 20 May 2009 20:03

losganados, whenever you quote people in this forum, please include links to the relevant posts/threads, so that people who want to can follow the links for the context.

Also, to add to the above:

Electronic games are above all games, that is to say "activities or contests governed by sets of rules" (Encarta).


http://insomnia.ac/commentary/sequel_the_videogame/

Bradford is simply not paying attention.

On topic, I have this to say: the original poster approached the issue rather clumsily. For one thing, some of his examples are of videogames, and some of real-life games. Since he is obviously incapable of tackling the issue as a whole, it would be best to break it down. I.e.:

-What is a meta-videogame?

-What is a meta-real-life game?

In brief, meta-videogames do not exist, because all the rules are on the disc, and meta-real-life games exist only if by "game" in this context you mean "mini-game" (because in real-life there is only one game). And then you can also expand the second definition to include the first, because in the great scheme of things a videogame is yet another mini-game.

I have to go to the supermarket now. I think some people will understand what I meant -- they can explain it to those who still have questions.
User avatar
icycalm
Hyperborean
 
Joined: 28 Mar 2006 00:08
Location: Tenerife, Spain

Unread postby Bradford » 20 May 2009 20:51

losganados wrote:
Bradford wrote:because no one can define what a game is in the first place.

icycalm wrote: It would be good if you paid some attention to the articles I post on the frontpage -- I post them for a reason you know.
Jean Baudrillard wrote:
The world is a game.


icycalm wrote:Wittgenstein was not able to define the concept 'game' -- because it is not a concept that can be circumscribed in any way. . . .

icycalm wrote:Fundamentally, there's no difference between toys and games, nor rules and objects. That's why every attempt to make a distinction here will be abortive (see Wikipedia, Wittgenstein, and any game-related books, papers and articles ever).

The point is to grasp the nature of the flux. Once you've done that, you'll realize that rules and objects are illusory -- mere failures of the intellect -- products of the imagination.


http://forum.insomnia.ac/viewtopic.php?t=2809

By 'no one can define it' I meant no one can do what I was attempting to do in the linked thread, which is create a definition which delineates or circumscribes the essential elements of a game in a consistent and exhaustive manner that covers all cases, large and small. The best we can do is come up with illusory definitions which are useful for certain limited purposes. Also, "no one" was hyperbole, as I meant only the vast majority of people who would be generally inclined to add useless and/or pretentious prefixes to concepts that they already don't understand.

Nevertheless, that is no excuse for lazy writing that failed to make that clear the first time, and I apologize.

icycalm wrote:Bradford is simply not paying attention.


I'm trying. Failing, maybe, but trying.
Bradford
 
Joined: 18 Jun 2008 18:11
Location: Orlando, Florida, USA

Unread postby bunuelo » 20 May 2009 20:55

icycalm wrote:For one thing, some of his examples are of videogames, and some of real-life games.


My apologies; I used poker as an illustration. The same thing happens when playing, say, Street Fighter 2 against an opponent that one has played or watched before. One reasons about how best to play against this opponent, given knowledge of his previous play or other external cues.
bunuelo
Banned
 
Joined: 06 May 2009 03:31
Location: CA, USA

Unread postby icycalm » 20 May 2009 21:22

I responded to Bradford here: http://forum.insomnia.ac/viewtopic.php?t=2819

On the present topic, a simpler way to put it would be this:

A meta-game is the opposite of a mini-game.

The only difference, which is rather spurious and can therefore be disregarded, is that meta-games are by definition always influencing the main game, whereas you could imagine mini-games (especially mini-videogames) which do not in any way influence the main game.

But, like I said, this distinction is not important. The mini-videogame does indeed influence the main game, even when it seems that it doesn't -- if for no other reason than diverting the attention of the player from the main game.

I think I might write an article on this subject. It'll be tricky, since to fully understand it one would have to first understand the nature of the flux (mentioned in the thread I linked at the top of this post), which, at the end of the day, is the chief insight of philosophy. So it's not really possible to fully explain the meta/mini-game business in an article without attaching Plank's book to it. But I think I'll give it a go anyways. The thing with these articles is that, even if some of them or parts of them do not immediately make sense, they eventually will once one has read all of them.
User avatar
icycalm
Hyperborean
 
Joined: 28 Mar 2006 00:08
Location: Tenerife, Spain

Unread postby icycalm » 21 Dec 2009 20:51

http://forums.selectbutton.net/viewtopi ... 815#662815

ninjafetus wrote:So, uhhh... I'm reaaaalllly enjoying this game. The comment above about the different scoring systems really making the game is spot on for me. It turns the base game into a platform for super-smooth metagames, and I'm loving it. I can score attack to stage 4 in maniac and normal (still not touching ultra), and I'm refusing to credit feed, so I just keep getting better at the earlier stuff (icy would be so proud).


I'd be even prouder if you stopped abusing profound-sounding terms (like for example "meta-game"), when you clearly have not the faintest fucking clue what they mean.
User avatar
icycalm
Hyperborean
 
Joined: 28 Mar 2006 00:08
Location: Tenerife, Spain

Unread postby Joshua » 03 Mar 2013 10:24

http://culture.vg/features/commentary/dr-mundolove.html

I know there will eventually be an essay explaining this word "metagame" in great detail, but Sulla's write-up got me thinking ahead of time. Does anyone need this word "metagame", or even anything like it, at all? Obviously the particular word is dumb as shown above, but my current thinking is that one should not even want to replace it with something else less pretentious or ignorant.

All the professional sports Sulla mentions get by just fine -- better, really -- without ever talking about the "metagame". Imagine if you were lined up to go into the ring in a martial arts match. The natural thing to do would be to find out who your opponent is and look up YouTube videos of his prior matches. Everybody does it, and you'd be an idiot not to, and there are no special words for it, apart from perhaps "common sense". If all the "metagame"-hating fagots from League of Legends invaded combat sports, what would they have you do? Konk yourself on the head right before the match in an attempt to induce amnesia so you don't know anything about this person you're about to fight, and no doubt forgetting a bunch of other stuff as well?

(Actually it would be great if all the fagots tried to invade combat sports, because then maybe they'd get taught a lesson :)

All of the above is probably banal at this point (for Insomnia readers at least). But I haven't seen anyone talk about this: JoshF mentioned how the term originated in war. If war is "the continuation of politics by other means" then it makes no sense to talk of the "metagame" in a real-world warfare scenario either. The "metagame" in war is the real game! And warfare is simply a minigame within it, and soldiers who think otherwise are deluded. All the fags who complain about the "metagame" are, I think, trying to propagate this... arbitrary morality, so to speak, that one should only play a certain minigame within their games, because they're too weak for the REAL GAME, which they call the metagame.

So that's my attempt at predicting at least part of what's going into the essay on "metagaming".
User avatar
Joshua
Banned
 
Joined: 10 Mar 2011 17:55
Location: United States

Unread postby icycalm » 03 Mar 2013 18:01

The first "fags" you mention are aspies, not fags. Only the second fags are fags. Get your terms straight.

Joshua wrote:All the fags who complain about the "metagame" are, I think, trying to propagate this... arbitrary morality, so to speak, that one should only play a certain minigame within their games, because they're too weak for the REAL GAME, which they call the metagame.


The fags are right in this (but for the wrong reasons). The "certain minigame" you speak of is THE GAME, and all that going onto YouTube does (the metagame) is RUIN IT. But the fags are not decrying going onto YouTube because it ruins the game, but because it results in their losing. So both sides are ultimately wrong and only I understand why, and what's to be done about it.

But you are right on the money on one thing: the fact that no one in sports ever speaks of metagames is proof positive that it is a superfluous term that's only making things harder to understand.
User avatar
icycalm
Hyperborean
 
Joined: 28 Mar 2006 00:08
Location: Tenerife, Spain

Unread postby icycalm » 03 Mar 2013 19:40

Actually, on second thought all your fags are indeed fags, my bad.
User avatar
icycalm
Hyperborean
 
Joined: 28 Mar 2006 00:08
Location: Tenerife, Spain

Unread postby icycalm » 03 Mar 2013 19:43

They are a fagotistical subspecies of aspie -- fag-aspies, in short -- since pure fags don't play games like LoL.
User avatar
icycalm
Hyperborean
 
Joined: 28 Mar 2006 00:08
Location: Tenerife, Spain

Unread postby icycalm » 05 Mar 2013 04:22

What's interesting to me is that you still haven't managed to learn anything from all the scathing criticisms I've directed against those who view videogames as sports -- never mind combat sports, lol. "The fag-aspies are stupid because they don't want to do what fighters in combat sports do", is basically your reasoning, but this reasoning is blatantly MORONIC, because LoL IS NOT A FUCKING COMBAT SPORT GODDAMNIT -- in fact it's not even a sport at all!

I basically have to take each one of you by the hand as if you were little children, and guide you patiently all the way to the end, and if I let go of your little hand for even the tiniest of moments, I turn around and find you all the back at the starting point. It's utterly exasperating, but it is what it is, and that's why I am the genius here I guess. I wouldn't be a genius if the gap between us was not fucking enormous.
User avatar
icycalm
Hyperborean
 
Joined: 28 Mar 2006 00:08
Location: Tenerife, Spain

Unread postby icycalm » 08 Nov 2014 02:39

http://culture.vg/features/art-theory/a ... -metagame/
http://culture.vg/features/art-theory/o ... ni-gaming/

http://www.reddit.com/r/gamedesign/comm ... or/clo9nci

CaptPic4rd wrote:You're right about needing a taxonomy. I think we can do better than yours though. Every game can be solved, not just puzzles. A Turing AI on a super computer playing Starcraft 2 could account for every factor and calculate the best choice for every decision in the game, every millisecond. Game = solved.

The difference between spoiling an adventure game and spoiling a MOBA is that the adventure game is completely ruined, whereas the MOBA isn't because the strategy guides are far from 100% comprehensive like the adventure game guides are. They can give you item builds, but they can't tell you when you should teleport to bottom-lane to gank, etc.

The equivalent in a MOBA would be installing a mod that added a layer to your UI that told you what you should be doing and what spells you should be casting moment to moment. Which some WoW addons have actually approached.


It's really obvious when you think about it. Reading someone's strategy guide is letting them tell you how to play. The more you read, the more you are being told how to play.


The part I bolded is a slightly more detailed explanation of the one I gave in the first article, so I'd like to see if I can work it in when I sit down to revise the article at some point. I especially liked the example about the WoW addons, which I know nothing about.

CaptPic4rd is jeffrobot by the way.
User avatar
icycalm
Hyperborean
 
Joined: 28 Mar 2006 00:08
Location: Tenerife, Spain


Return to Theory