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Discussion: Video Game Meta

Discussion – It’s an important part of who geeks are. We like to sit around and talk about who is better, Kirk or Picard. We like to talk about why Minecraft is so amazing and we like to talk about the implications of paying for mods in games. We like to open up a lot of discussions, through a medium of a good, strong opinion and then to invite others to either share in our opinions, or to give a conflicting view on a topic. Today’s topic needs little introduction, as we’re going to talk about the very nature of what makes a good ‘meta’ in a video game and what they’re there for. Plus, we’ll look at the negatives of the meta, then open up to everyone for a discussion.

Like it or not, MOBAs are huge business. League of Legends, one of the largest games on the market today, is synonymous with the term eSport. For those who are unfamiliar, an eSport is exactly like it sounds – a game that is played like a sport. It’s where professional gamers end up and boy oh boy, is the market big? In League of Legends main event alone last year, the LoL 2016 World Championship, over $5,000,000 was paid out. Take that figure in for a second – Over five million dollars. Some ten years ago, that kind of money was unthinkable, as games such as Counter Strike: Source were paying out just under half a million dollars. So the jump in the past ten years has increased, well, tenfold. This is great news for the industry, as it means there’s more money to go around and keep people wanting to be competitive, just like in physical sports.

paragon-7

What’s curious is with the rise of DOTA 2 and games such as Overwatch* coming onto the market, the money for each game has seriously gone up. Gone are the days where you could expect to win ten thousand pounds and feel like gods gift to the Earth: Now you were talking about potentially millions coming in for your team. DOTA2 topped last years biggest single payout, paying out over twenty million dollars. Therefore, knowing your game inside and out is not only critical, but it’s actually what makes you an A player from a B+ player. There’s nothing wrong with being second best, but with this kind of money on the line and serious investments and sponsorships being made, there’s no wonder that the meta in a game will have to change from time to time. The same could be said for older games too, such as the Unreal Tournament franchise (which has got a new title on the way, but it’s currently just in Alpha. I’ll give you a review of the Alpha in the coming weeks).

Now, call me old fashioned, but when I played games like Unreal Tournament, or Tekken, I used to lurk on a lot of forums. Turns out, that’s not such a bad idea, even in this day and age. Information about the latest patches, or to new characters, are always published to a games forum. So if you’re a League of Legends pro, or if you’re a newbie looking to learn about what’s happening in your game, you might want to jump onto your games forums. Furthermore, streamers have taken to getting into the patches of games before everyone else. This is good publicity for the developers, the game and of course the streamers – But it’s also valuable information for anyone curious about the meta in games.

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I recently have taken a liking to Paragon, which is a visually gorgeous game. But I’m not good. I know I’m not good. Heck, I’m not even good at Awesomenauts. MOBAs probably aren’t my thing, but I certainly love the idea behind them. Just before writing this article, I played a game, as my ‘main hero’ – Steel – and you know what? Having read a few articles on the character and what people often do wrong, I suddenly was doing a lot better. No more feeding, no more losing team fights, I was a vital part to the team and I was proud to be so. I ended up getting 3 tower solo kills, but whenever I saw a team fight happening, I jumped into the same lane as my team and assisted with the fight. But, more importantly, I read what the actual meta of the game was at this moment of time and I felt… Heavily disappointed.

See, I love complexity. I love something where there’s a challenge, but nothing too great. I want enough of a challenge to validate my purpose for being in the area, I wanted nothing more… Than to play a game, where others could see how good I was. So what was the meta of Paragon which got me so deeply disappointed? They called it “Grouping”. 3-4 people jump into a lane and push the lane as fast as possible, whilst 1 other held off others. Playing as Steel, I was durable and good at giving the enemy carry grief. I was good at stunning them, pushing them around, sponging up the damage – Basically, I wasn’t going to go down, but I wasn’t going to get kills either. So I held my lane, whilst the group took care of everything else.

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There’s nothing wrong with reading into games, there’s nothing wrong with learning what a winning strategy is… But the meta itself should be reasonable and fun. I don’t consider grouping up quickly and just taking out everything and hoping for the best is fun. The game itself is a lot of fun, so I switch off and just play the game and have a blast. But I must ask what you think of this strategy – but more importantly, what games do you play where meta plays such a vital part? Do you play MOBAs yourself, or do you play fighting games, where knowing what characters belong in which tiers is what helps you win? Do you like to research what beats what, or do you just go in for the fun of the game itself? Thanks for reading everyone – Leave us a comment below, or over on Facebook, Reddit and Twitter. Is meta, knowledge of patches and updates, sharing of information of what’s a good way purely to win, a good thing in competitive games – Other than just winning?

* I put an asterix here, because can you guess how much Overwatch paid out in it’s first year? $300,000. Imagine what it’ll be this year with Blizzard behind them?… Well presumably, nowhere near the levels of League of Legends and DOTA 2, as even Hearthstone ‘only’ paid out $1,000,000.

2 responses

  1. When it comes to Overwatch it seems the Meta is everything. People do not stray from it, especially in the competitive mode, which leads to a good amount of abuse if you want to play something the rest agree is not in the meta and thus will surely be detrimental to the experience. It’s one of the reasons I don’t play competitive anymore.

    I like enjoying the game for its own sake, to see and make crazy plays regardless of the outcome or if this will push me into the top 500 or something.

    Only in competitive have I had to report people for their behaviour, yet it’s very common for players to report others for playing characters that are not in the meta, with Sombra being the latest such character.

    The Meta is all well and good, but it should never take over your enjoyment of the game. Enjoy the game for itself, as you say. That’s the way to go for me.

    Liked by 1 person

    February 10, 2017 at 9:22 am

    • The thing is, I fully agree with you by the way, that whilst you should enjoy the game for itself, that doesn’t make sense in a competitive level. Consider it like this:

      You are a seasoned pro at football and are put in a club with people who cannot kick a ball. You’re so good, you’re miles ahead of everyone, but you’re being held back by your team. You could say “But it’s still fun”, or you can try to push on and get the competitive edge and join in with a team who are with you.

      Sure, you should play things to have fun… But the competitive scene is there to win. So if you don’t fit in with the current meta, it can be a struggle for them.

      I played another game of Paragon today. I’m now 13-0 and happily so. I’ve learned when to jump in and assist my team. I’ve learned when to stay back and take a lane. I’ve learned what my character can do to help in the game – and it’s fun enough! I think it’s down to a few things: Do you have the time to learn the meta, do you have the drive to learn the meta or… are you just gaming because you like gaming?

      If the latter, competitive might not be your thing, which is a-okay, as competitive is there to open the doors to people who want to go into eSports. Typically, anyway..!

      Like

      February 10, 2017 at 10:14 pm

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