Meta” is a term that has been passed down from the era of the ancient Greeks. At the time, meta was used to describe “beyond”, “behind” or “after”. Today, only the “beyond” sense of meta lingers. But that is not the meta we’ve come to know today in modern gaming.
In gaming terms, meta refers to a method of playing the game that is preferred by many and has seen success in regular games. This typically happens because the said playstyle, tactic, or equipment becomes much more effective and advantageous to use than others of the same category.
However, ‘meta’ doesn’t always stay the same. With the game itself constantly changing, the players start to find more effective tactics and methodologies that replace the previous meta.
What Is Meta Gaming?
Usually, the players tend to choose a meta playstyle or loadout specifically because it gives them an advantage in-game. This is exclusive of any particular fun or joy that the said player might find in the pick. That is why gamers playing according to the meta are often looked down upon.
If you are someone that goes for meta picks, chances are that you’ve been called a ‘meta-abuser’ at least once. Every player takes advantage of meta to some extent since it is only a natural instinct to go for a play that will give you the most bang for your buck.
In essence, whenever you choose specific ways to play a game in order to gain a massive advantage instead of using an enjoyable playstyle, you are playing ‘meta’.
How Does the Meta Change?
A game developer has to factor in many things before making changes to their game. For example, if Riot Games decides to improve (known as ‘buff’ in gaming terms) a certain item in a game as diverse as League of Legends. They would have to factor in the following:
- What is this said item actually doing and does it really need a buff?
- What heroes/champions actually use this item and how strong is it on them?
- How much impact will it have on the heroes that get countered by this item.
- Will buffing this item introduce huge offsets or will it disrupt the typical understanding of the game?
When an object in a game becomes strong enough to boost its own pick rate, it becomes a meta pick. This continuously challenges many game developers to keep introducing changes to a game in order to constantly change the meta. This not only improves the overall dynamic of the game. But gives players something new to look forward to.
Meta has and will continue to be a dynamic feature in the online gaming community. It provides different topics of conversation among gamers and influences how a particular game is being played. A meta can also become annoying and frustrating to deal with if it’s too strong to counter. That is why developers must have an excellent understanding of their games so they can deal with them accordingly.