On Meta- and Mini-gaming

By Alex Kierkegaard / November 7, 2014

Videogame Culture: Volume II

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.

Videogame Culture: Volume I


Men of Great Genius

The Stupidest Word in Videogames
Arcade Culture
In the Name of Consistency
Reviewing Ports and Compilations
Sequel: The Videogame
No More "Parodies"
On "Values" for "Monies"
Can Games "be Art?", and other Childish Nonsense
Message my Ass
On Role-playing Games
The RPG Conundrum
The Nuts and Bolts are as Important as the Ones and Zeros
The Videogame News Racket
Does Anyone Hate Anything Anymore?
Non-games are for Non-gamers
Casual Reviews are for Casual Gamers
Mini-games are for Mini-gamers
On Complexity, Depth and Skill
The Second Stupidest Word in Videogames
On New Games Journalism
Leave Ranking to the Experts
Beyond the Videogame News Racket
How Good Exactly is Perfect?
Cocksucking Videogameland
Basic Instincts
On "Emergent" Game Behavior and other Miracles
On Insects and their Laws
The Simulacrum is True
A Gamer's Guide to the Internet: Prologue
Hardware Porn: Prologue
A Brief History of Cutscenes
On Action and Reaction
On "Pluralism"
The Myth of Independence
On Mane Streems and Niches
On Why I Am The Best Videogame Player In The World
On Why Scoring Sucks And Those Who Defend It Are Aspies
On the Relative Irrelevance of "Balance"
Bad Try, So No Cigar
Reviewing Textures
On Narrative Delusions


On the Genealogy of "Art Games": A Polemic


Historia abscondita

First Essay: The Absurd Circularity of the Pseudo-Art Game
Second Essay: The Evolving Artforms and their Parasites
Third Essay: The Message of the Medium


Videogame Culture: Volume II

There Can Be Only One

Following Nietzsche

On Set Theory and the Bastardization Process
Against the "Metagame"
On Meta- and Mini-gaming
R.I.P., Nintendo: An Introduction to the Tree of Gaming
Why Versus Multiplayer Games Are Worse Games Than JRPGs
The Downside to Playing Games with Icy and His Friends
On Why Bigger Has Always Been Better, And Why It Always Will Be
Real Virtuality, or On the Whole Murky Affair of the Emotions
The Motion-Sensing Dead End
What Is Wrong With Sports Games
Aesthetics and Mechanics and the Grand Unified Theory
The Console Wars Are Over
Why Steam Curation Algorithms Are Doomed To Eternal Failure
The Myth of Accessibility
Why Science Fiction Is The Ultimate Videogame Theme
The Myth of Toxicity
Why The Best Games Also Have The Best Graphics
How to Deal with Backlogs
Why I Don't Bother With Card Games
VR Is Stalling For No Reason
On Nerd Psychology and The Ultimate Goal of Videogames
Against Retro
How Art Works
Defining Cutscenes
Designing An MMORPG That Doesn't Suck, or The True Episodic Gaming
The Death of Discussion
How To Not Use Genres Like A Retard
How Devs Like Naughty Dog and Sucker Punch are Holding Gaming to Ransom
Bugs my Ass
Why You Should Play More Games
The Joy of Good Criticism
King of the Nerds
The Complete Package
The Supreme Criterion
How Consoles Went From Awesome To Necessary Evil
Interactivity Isn't Optional
Understanding the Crowdfunding "Revolution"
Ideas vs. Coding
The Inevitable Death and Improbable Resurrection of Variety Games
"Indie" Syndrome is Artistic Down Syndrome
How Hardcore Gamers Can Remain Sane & Healthy
On the Creative Bankruptcy of Goal-less Game Design, or Creativity my Ass
Why Gitting Gud at Videogames is for Losers
Why the Highest Artform Attracts the Lowest Lifeforms

ORDER NOW (Ships Autumn 2020)

Videogame Culture: Volume III

Quantum of Game Design
The Ultimate Singleplayer vs. Multiplayer Essay
On the Worthlessness of Game Academics
The Art of Cover Art, or How To Judge A Game By Its Cover
On Genre and the Tree of Gaming
On Difficulty, Fun, and the Impossibility of Playing to Lose
On Journalism's Irrelevance
On the Worthlessness of Game Academics
On "Indies" and "Dependies", or The "Indie" Game Conundrum
An Insomniac's Guide to Great Games
Dungeon Crawling
Notes on the Arcade Culture
Shooting Love
Defining Cutscenes
To Save, or not to Save, That is the Question
Why Old-timers Hate Handhelds
On Grinding
The Truth About Emulation
On Videogame Forums
A Matter of Tradition
How Hard is your Core? (or, The New Casuals)
The Third Stupidest Word in Videogames
Industry, Shmindustry
On Game Guides
Retrogression & Decadence
The Fourth Stupidest Word in Videogames
The Console and the End of Videogame Hardware
Who Really Killed Adventure Games
Western Videogame Art Design and the Cult of the Grotesque
The Myth of Innovation
Videogames & Simulation
Responsibility my Ass
Medium, Shmedium
Pressing Buttons
The Cinematic Videogame
Acquiring Taste
A History of Violence
The Mise-en-Jeu
The New Games Criticism
Confessions of a Game Reviewer

COMING SOON (Ships Autumn 2020)

See Also

Videogame Art