I apologize for my loose use of certain vocabulary. I caused more confusion than I can stand, so I’d like to address the issue directly.
I need to come up with words to refer to more complicated thoughts about game design. I do not have the time (unfortunately) to read through even all of the best blog posts by game designers available, so I can’t constantly be double-checking each piece of terminology I think I coin or reuse against established (or even informal) standards.
In my post about “serious” games, I could have simply called them “deep” games. I did not initially think about this, because I thought of such games as games to be approached seriously and analyzed deeply as opposed to games approached as entertainment and discarded casually. I was vaguely aware of the previous definition of serious games, but thought it didn’t have much application these days so hijacking the word wouldn’t lead to much commotion. I was wrong—I need to start calling “serious” games something else.
The word “metagame” does not have a strongly established meaning in general use. It has several specific meanings that sometimes overlap and sometimes have significantly different connotations. “Metagame” is associated with the concept of “metagaming” which has a wikipedia article that outlines its various usages.
- Making moves in a smaller-scale game with an eye towards affecting a larger-scale game instead of simply attempting to win the smaller-scale game.
- (as a noun) A system for creating or modifying game rules.
- Using knowledge from outside of the game to strategize within the game. (This is partially the meaning I use.)
- Exploiting game mechanics by using outside knowledge. (This definition leads to a negative connotation common to some gamers.)
- In role-playing games: Having one’s character act based on knowledge that the character wouldn’t have but the player does have.
The definition I use is a variant on (3):
The metagame is the process (or the current state) of players’ exploration of the strategic space of the game. This knowledge exists and is perpetuated outside of the game itself and advances over time as the community tests and debunks more candidate strategies.
My definition is a bit more specific than any of those above. In fact, “metagame” could be distinct in its definition from a word that appears to be derived from it, in this case “metagaming.” I may continue to use the word “metagame” with my meaning in the future, but link back here for the definition, or I can come up with a (hopefully) new word.
Any suggestions for better words I can use to refer to what I’ve previously called “serious” games and the “metagame”?