Meta gaming, other than ‘bob didn’t take his hits’ is a crime worse than any other. I mean using OOC knowledge for IC stuff is awful isn’t it? Well yes it is and it is in my humble opinion is cheating, the kind of cheating that should end with the viking long walk for those involved. Personally as a game runner i believe that this behaviour should end I permanent bans and as a player after events it cuts of bits of the game for me I cannot interact with.
But first what is it and when is it okay?
What is meta gaming? It can be boiled down to using ooc knowledge in a game that your character doesn’t know to define your decision, using ooc resources ic or making ooc choices that to modify your ic behaviour. This is not awful all the time.
We meta game all the time. For example after reading about torture survivors I avoid going near that in lrp now, because that is something I am uncomfortable that other people are fine with. I modify my ic actions to avoid ooc issues and damage a game. I have a raft of stuff that I avoid that a character might be fine with. Poly armour is lighter than metal armour but is more expensive giving you an ic advantage for cash (or in my case saves on crippling back pain).
Every IC relationship I have been involved in has been meta gaming. No really. I have always checked OOC that it was okay and set ground rules. I have used ooc things to make sure those boundaries have not been crossed.
(As a side note just cause someone in an ic relationship it does not mean they are fucking in real life, seriously people if your emotional maturity need this sign posting may I suggest playing D n D instead? And I think you are a prick.)
Two moments of meta-gaming however jump to mind.
The first being a situation where a character I was playing who was renowned for a horrific temper, extreme acts of violence with little prompting, no decency and a despising childish behaviour was in a situation where he was about to hit his wife. OOC I knew that the person I was roleplaying with was fine with this and knowing her was pushing towards that outcome because stable ic relationships are dull. However I was in the difficult situation of knowing if we went there it would could upset someone who had been through this if they found out about it and that within the culture of the system it would have become an ooc issue for the sake of drama which would leave us treated badly and any real victims of domestic violence dragged into the wake of the good ship lrp drama. I was not prepared for either of those outcomes. I chose to change my characters actions based on this and a the scene became a lot more light hearted and a mate ended up having his face licked. To be clear I used OOC knowledge to alter my characters IC actions. This is meta gaming, but is fine.
The other time was when I was invited along to a meet to discuss a game and the logistics of running a faction. The conversation soon turned to discussing what to do about x group, how to organise stuff for political advantage in game and generally planning how characters would do stuff. i.e. sew up positions, deal with external enemies and make sure the right people were in the right position to hold onto power. Obviously I derailed it and left. As it was outright cheating. We were discussing how to ‘win’ at a lrp and doing things in a pub that were IC discussions.
Neither of these where the same as speeding up when you see a monster crew with their hands in their air or moving when a ref comes and stands by you (hint sometimes that’s cause a ref is fucking with you and seeing what kind f a player you are, there is judging going on there). Meta gaming can be more subtle than just the obvious and can be done for good reason.
However facebook is causing issues both accidently and purposely.
First up I intensely dislike unedited G/B/U’s. Note I said unedited, frothing is cool however they spoil games for me. I personally mention names and ‘the thing’ rather than specifics, I never discuss the secret things or stuff that might spoil info for others. Why? Because I make the choice to avoid plot I don’t know ic and know ooc to avoid accidental cheating. As a player every time I see a gbu with secret stuff in I get annoyed. It’s the same as saying ‘He can see the dead because he’s dead’ a week after that movie came out, or saying who dies in the new star wars. No really it is. As a player if you do this I will dislike you intensely as you have ruined my game experience, you have taken the surprise in the story from me. No ifs or buts you have done that, you have taken exploration, mystery and surprise from my game. You have taken the money I spent on a ticket and said ‘hey all the cool stuff you wanted to discover as a character in game, well here is the Wikipedia entry for it.’ I can firewall, but I find it can be hard to avoid making choices ic because of ooc knowledge. I make a choice to not play with folk who do this or systems where it is prevalent.
As a game runner it’s a nightmare, you just don’t bother with conspiracy or mystery plot because it’s pointless. I am really lucky with Hades that my players are really mature (not in age, but mental outlook) and know it is a game of mystery so don’t post outside of their group. It means new players get to hit the system with the same blind lack of knowledge the original players did. It means that they can experience this mystery for themselves. I have also been lucky running a <redacted> plot where the folk on it kept the details to themselves meaning the game had an element of being super secret missions rather than just another skirmish. I have a lot of love for them.
But more insidious than this is how ooc info shapes games. The tragedy is we have facebook lrp now where people will use manipulation of information away from the game to manipulate a game before it hits the field. Sometimes this is accidental because they are enthusiastic and have the facts wrong, this then makes the game ‘truth skew’ to this new truth as it is repeated over and over.
Some people do this on purpose to gain IC advantage, even going as far as using ooc manipulation to damage ooc reputations to gain ic advantage. They are cheats, they are cheating and they need to go away. This is utterly unacceptable behaviour with no mitigating circumstances what so ever. I personally would ban someone over this with zero issues what so ever.
There is a lot more to meta gaming than this for good and bad. How as game runners we use meta techniques to manipulate and how techniques can enhance play. Go read about Nordic lrp and feel dirty about it.
Meta gaming is the use of ooc stuff ic, we all do it. Just some of us do it for evil with intention or not.