What Is Metagaming? [A Beginner-Friendly Guide]

Deyan Georgiev
Deyan Georgiev

Updated · Jul 19, 2022

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You’d think the point of gaming is to have fun.

Well, it used to be. Nowadays, however, more and more games have a competitive nature.

And some people would do anything to win – including cheating. 

While there are numerous ways to do so, we’ll focus on one in particular. 

Let’s unveil what metagaming is and how it works.

What Is Metagaming?

Metagaming is using a strategy, information, or executing an action that your in-game character shouldn’t be capable or aware of.

Think of it as copying from a textbook during a test – you’ll pass, even if you haven’t studied.

In other words, you’re using information from an external source to alter the outcome.

Players consider metagaming to be a strong violation of multiplayer game etiquette. It’s ruining the overall experience by destroying sportsmanship, fun, and fair play. 

That’s because you’re supposed to play as a character whose only knowledge comes from the "life" within the game. Using information from outside sources may result in a character taking actions they otherwise wouldn’t.

The instances of metagaming in GTA RP, AmongUs, and Dungeons & Dragons are some of the most recognizable ones.

Metagaming in GTA

Throughout the years, the Grand Theft Auto series has amazed us with both likeliness to real-life and out-of-this-world experiences. 

With such a huge fan base, it was only natural for Rockstar to develop a role-playing multiplayer mode. 

Although metagaming exists in many RP games, it’s quite common in the GTA series.

Let’s take a look at some examples:

Actions that are impossible in real life

Imagine a real-life situation where you get shot in the head. 

You won’t be able to tell your buddies or the police who shot you, right? 

Well, in-game, you’ll be able to do it. The catch is that you’re not supposed to, and you’ll be considered a meta-gamer if you do.

That’s because, in order to maintain the fairness of role-playing, you must behave as if in a real-life situation.

Using information from sources outside the game

Another example is using information from forums, streams, or even YouTube videos.  

Let’s say a person is organizing a GTA treasure hunt event.

They give you clues so you can start searching for the treasure. However, you happen to find their Twitch stream, and you see where they buried it. While ignoring the clues, you go to the exact location and claim the prize.

That’s considered metagaming because you're using information from outside the game that your character shouldn’t have.

Metagaming in AmongUS

In the GTA world, metagaming has clear definitions. In AmongUs, however, it’s up to the community to decide what the rules are.

For example, some people think proving your innocence by persuading others to observe your actions is metagaming. Оn the other hand, most players employ this exact technique to prove they aren’t the imposter.

However, there are some examples of pure metagaming in this game.

The point of the game is to expose the imposter through facts and evidence. That leads us to the first example of what metagaming in AmongUs is.

Using a friend who’s an Imposter

Imagine a situation where you’re one of the crewmates, and your friend is on the imposter’s team. 

Asking them about their teammates and then kicking them out of the ship is considered an act of metagaming. That’s because you’re using information that is usually unknown to the crewmates.

Talking to a dead crewmate

Another example is talking to a dead crewmate to expose the imposter who killed them. In a normal situation, you must catch the imposter doing it or collect enough evidence to kick them.

Metagaming in Dungeons & Dragons

Dungeons and Dragons is a tabletop game that came out in 1974. It marked the beginning of what we now know as “role-playing” games.

Like any other RPG, D&D has its meta-gamers. 

Metagaming in D&D refers to the way a player thinks. Generally, players shouldn’t think of the game as simply entertainment but accept it as a reflection of real life.

For example:

Acting as an experienced character

Starting a game from scratch is like finding a new job where you have zero experience. However, some players use knowledge from past games to gain an advantage.

One example is when experienced players begin a game and encounter a medusa. They’re aware of her ability to petrify people with her gaze, and they turn their characters to face in the opposite direction. However, it’s impossible for their inexperienced avatars to have that knowledge.

Using a stats book to develop a better strategy

Usually, these books show the stats of every creature in D&D. Using one to build a strategy may ruin the excitement for other players.

Let’s say you encounter a creature with X amount of HP. You’ll develop a strategy based on the knowledge you’ve gained from the game so far. But if you already know that it has 20 HP, you’ll have a different, more efficient approach.

Although knowing monsters' stats is undeniably helpful, it’ll drastically affect your strategy and gameplay. And as we know, any useful information acquired outside the game is an act of metagaming.

Metagaming in Esports

Metagaming in role-playing games can slightly differ from what it stands for in esports. 

The difference is RP games don’t have a strict set of rules. However, esports tournaments usually have clearly-defined regulations. 

In such a case, metagaming would mean taking advantage of the flaws in the rules.

A pure example of this is from a League of Legends Pro League tournament held in 2015.

The ruleset of the competition allowed players from lower brackets to attempt a “climb back” to the finals.

Two of the teams (Invictus and LGD) clashed, and the winner was about to meet the favorite (EDG) in the next round. Knowing the regulations, both teams intentionally tried to lose. That’s because the loser had the chance to compete in the lower brackets, thus having an easier climb towards the finals.

This is what metagaming in esports may look like. Neither team violated the rules but rather took advantage of them to alter the outcome.

Wrap Up

The term “metagaming” is constantly evolving. 

Its meaning in esports may differ from what metagaming is in RP games. 

We shared some examples so you can understand it better and avoid playing that way. Or maybe we taught you how to bend the rules and get an edge over the competition.  

Whichever the case, keep in mind that being a meta-gamer is generally frowned upon. Although the desire to win every game is in our nature, doing so by cheating is ruining the fun and fairness of it all. 

Our advice is to avoid such a playing style and have fun on your upcoming adventures!

FAQ.


What is metagaming in RP?

Using real-life information that your in-game character has no access to in order to gain an advantage.

What is metagaming with example?

Imagine a scenario in GTA in which your character has been killed. It won’t be able to tell the police who did it. That’s because, in a real-life situation, it’ll be impossible.
However, being the player, saw your character's assassin, and you can point them out. Doing so means using information that is unknown to the in-game character. Such or similar acts are what metagaming is all about.

Why is metagaming bad?

In general, metagaming is similar to cheating. And as such, it’s ruining the fun side of the game, as well as its fair play.

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Deyan Georgiev

Deyan Georgiev

Deyan has been fascinated by technology his whole life. From the first Tetris game all the way to Falcon Heavy. Working for TechJury is like a dream come true, combining both his passions – writing and technology. In his free time (which is pretty scarce, thanks to his three kids), Deyan enjoys traveling and exploring new places. Always with a few chargers and a couple of gadgets in the backpack. He makes mean dizzying Island Paradise cocktails too.

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