I erased it. One of my players said, "What was that there?"
"Are we supposed to act like we don't know about it?"
Well, the answer to that question is no, and comes along with a story about how meta-gaming is like a tube of material ejected from a bull's ass.
Meta-gaming is dumbNow, follow me here. Outside of directing a play or fulfilling a sexual fetish, when is it appropriate to tell someone, you've got to do what I want the way I want it because I said?
I don't have time to talk about the boring stuff, like "Metagaming is when players use real-life knowledge about the state of the game to determine their character's actions." The real question is what are you doing in a room?
Are you there to play a game? Hang out with friends? Tell a Story? Generate a mood? It certainly varies. I don't feel like I'm there to tell a story. Doesn't mean I can't see how people are playing the way Matthew Mercer plays are having fun.
But in all those cases, you're talking about a group of competent adults together in a room that like each other. Would you like it if someone told you what to do and how to do it? I know I wouldn't. A decade ago, I might have assumed that no one would. I mean, maybe it's your thing!
Generally though, it's considered a dick move. So I'mma gonna go with that.
The people metagaming are ruining the game!!!!!!11EXCLEMATIONPOINT
Are they though? Are they?
I've never never agreed with the principal that anything in the game takes priority ever over verisimilitude. From experience: Watching a player who made a character sit out of a game for five hours because "this wouldn't be a good time for him to show up yet." I liked that guy. I thought it was shit to make him sit out and he didn't come back. If I were who I am today, I might have had the courage to speak up at the time instead of after.
Now this doesn't mean verisimilitude isn't important, just that it shouldn't ever take precedence over something that is breathing.
What, exactly, are you in this room for?
The most common example, of course, is players knowing the weaknesses of the creatures in the monster manual. There are lots of solutions that avoid the problem ("Create your own special monsters!") but my core stipulation is it's not a problem.
Who cares if they know the monster abilities? Or, to put it more clearly, is the feeling you get when they don't use lightning or slashing weapons on the black ooze worth having other players lose agency? Do you need to make other people feel bad for 'not playing correctly'? How do you even determine what correctly is?
We have a table consensus. It's not a game you play to win. When we are talking about the outcomes, we focus on what seems most reasonable for the shared reality, not what is of most benefit to our characters. This is always a voluntary discussion. To compel someone to act as if they did not know a thing they know seems absurd to me. It's a game. I've played in adventures I know from memory. I'm not going to play stupidly, but I won't lead play.
I'll tell you my six year old does it ("You're playing wrong!"), and I'm going to socialize her out of doing that too. Which is sort of my point. I'm just going to flat out state that placing the freedom of your friends, below your own desire to reduce cognitive dissonance, isn't a mature thing to do. That might be because that's kind of how I view everyone who ever told someone "there character wasn't allowed to do that."
Really, because what this issue raises isn't the problem. When the 'problem' of metagaming comes up, it's always because there's some sort of other disagreement, that is being addressed non-directly by one person trying to dictate the behavior of another. I don't think this is a good idea considering how most people talk about metagaming. It's just a passive-aggressive way to avoid conflict.
Looking at it, and all the classic examples, I can't see in any case about how it's bad. Metagaming seems fine or stems from another problem. I certainly think this has its roots in narrative control from second edition, and I don't remember anyone who ever played those Dragonlance modules who thought they were good. Not only now in the internet age, but back in the hobby shop two cities over with my dad, talking with the cigar guy behind the steel and glass counter age. Everyone knew they were shit to play back then. I think my dad pitched it to his group as getting to play the heroes from the books, but I'm 100% certain that game died a very quick death.
There isn't any should, because their can't be. Don't think of a white elephant. DAMN IT. Now I want you to have not done that! Complaining about metagaming is crazy, weird, mildly unhealthy expression. Which, you know, if that's the cross you gotta bear, you be you, but damn man. Don't it get heavy?
Feel free to tell me why I'm wrong in the comments. It's a brave new world that looks like the old one, circa 2008.
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