Before I start, lets tell a quick story. You ever hear of a game called Guilty Gear X. It looked like this:
There was a period of time early on in college that this game was the shit. We got a copy at one of the apartments, and we played the shit out of it. Well, during the great Guilty Gear X run, a friend of mine had one of the characters that he really liked. Wasn’t the strongest, or the easiest to control. But he liked the gameplay or the art design or some shit. But he spent hours on it, and got good with it. And he loved having that kind of pocket pick in the background. And plus it was fun running into something weird.
Back in those days, it was before online gaming for consoles was a thing. Or really where everything was connected enough to have a truly GIANT pool of people playing one game. Sure we had UO but even that was on a much smaller scale compared to today’s gaming. World of Warcraft hadn’t come out yet, for example. Sure there was some information on the internet. Move sets. Basic guides.
If all of this was today, one google search would say who you had to pick, and if you picked anything else, you would get completely destroyed.
Before I go any further than that story, I feel like we are going to need some definitions, because some of these concepts may be foreign to the congregation’s ears.
Meta – Bullshit…It could actually be described as attempting to find the best possible situation within the confines of the game. The goal is to figure out which set of characters, equipment, or whatever will generate the maximum result. At any cost. Often times, the “meta” state of the game was not intended by the designers but found out by players doing every combination possible to find the weakness in the game.
Min/Max-ing – Often used as a verb, it is the act of doing anything to improve your stats by even the smallest amount. Gamers who min/max sacrifice everything just to get an additional point in an attribute or a new piece of armor that is even just passingly better.
Tryhards or Sweats – These are people who will do literally anything to win. Anything by any means necessary.
Exploit – A bug in the code of the video game that can cause people to get an advantage. Again, unintended by the designers.
Got all that good. Now that is out of the way, on with the show
Meta gaming is fucking bullshit, and it is going to ruin video games.
I am not sure how it started, but a likely culprit is e-sports. Once video games became competition for big money, teams became focused on doing anything to win a match. Sometimes that meant exploiting a bug. Most often times it means making strategic choices to get the maximum result from their picks.
These practices bled into the average gamer now that everyone thinks they can be fucking Ninja, making a career out of video games. Quick side bar on this. You are not becoming fucking ninja. If the average high school football player has a 0.08% of making into the NFL, you dear reader, have no fucking shot of becoming Ninja.
I digress. If everyone thinks they can be Ninja, then everyone is playing like an esports pro. Even in any non-ranked, casual format.
But yeah, there were 100 characters, but only like 20 actually get playtime. And of those twenty, you have to play them a specific way and buy specific items, or you will just flat out be not as good as another player. Maybe you get punished more if you mess up. Maybe your damage output per coin spent is less. Whatever it is, its just not as good.
At that time, I didn’t care. I played a ton of Twisted Fate, and I loved it. I mean look at this guy.
And I played him as a damage dealing character. But oh no, the meta says you have to play him as a mage. I didn’t want to.
Sometimes I would really whip ass. If I wasn’t doing so hot, I would immediately get roasted by the chat. “LOL, LOOK AT THIS FUCKING NOOB. TF CANT DEAL DAMAGE. UNINSTALL”
If I just wanted to have fun, that is not a good excuse. I would bring the whole team down as a result.
Eventually I just quit. I had enough of dealing with people.
And that is where any online video game is going now. I did a whole post about Apex Legends and a little thing on TeamFightTactics. I have since stopped playing Apex (at least regularly), and I am rocky on TFT. The cycle for both was the same.
When the game was new and first launched, it was amazing. Everyone was just as confused, and there was alot of fun. Then the esports came, and the meta game along with it. And the meta has now made both games where you can’t have fun with the characters or set you want to play with. Now you play meta or you will just fucking get dominated.
And the cycle will continue like this, and I am not sure what it will take to break it.
For non-video game people, the best analogy I can give is Sabermetrics. They made a whole movie with Brad Pitt about this. Basically using deep mathematics to determine a players value based on a number of different statistics. Now everyone has analysts and shit. The game is changed.
On a much smaller scale for videogames, it really means anything competitive. Anything where a player has to play another player, is completely ruined. Because now everything has to be min/maxed to the point where its miserable.
I dont know if this means I need to step away from any video games where I have to play another player or what it means. For now, I just hope other people realize that having a metagame is fucking awful and its time for it to stop. Please. For my sanity. Please.