April 15

What Is a Meta in Gaming and Why Do So Many Online Games Revolve Around Them?

While the sophistication of gaming has evolved over the past four decades or so, the general rules governing how games are made – and how we play them – remain the same.

There is a core mission at the heart of all games, and as players, we learn the meta – that is, the most efficient way of playing them. It doesn’t matter whether you are playing Pong or a super-advanced title like Call of Duty; there are strategies we can deploy to ‘game’ the AI and win.

Most types of games have a meta element to them, and a good way to explain that is via the titles offered at an NJ online casino – roulette, a game of pure chance, has no meta element to it. However, blackjack, which we can play strategically to reduce the house’s edge, does.

The concept of meta in gaming has certainly been taken to the next level by the popularity of competitive online games – those esports favorites such as CS:GO and League of Legends, to name just two. Here, the meta is the strategies and tactics commonly deployed when two or more players/teams do battle, and it’s the true innovators that rip up the script and essentially re-write the meta.

League of Legends is the perfect vehicle to explain meta in gaming in more detail. LoL, developed by Riot Games and released in 2009, was a title in which the team-based premise is simple enough – two sides try to destroy one another’s base. The meta-aspect is how either team sets about achieving exactly that, hence why specific roles such as Laners, Junglers, and Support have been created.

Think of it as a sport – in football, the object is to score as many touchdowns as possible. But each player on the field has their specific role in scoring/defending, and each coach will have their playbook of moves, the footballing meta if you will. 

The theory of (meta) evolution

The interesting thing about meta in gaming is that it is constantly evolving. That’s mainly due to game theory.

Whenever a set of ‘rules’ become the norm in sports, esports, or even in business, there will always be those innovators that look to break free from the shackles and create a new normal.

This evolution can be seen in the meta of gaming. If you stream a high-profile LoL tournament today, you will note that the deployed strategies tend to be different as players find more efficient ways to perform their roles compared to five years ago.

Another reason why the meta is constantly changing in online games is because of patch updates, which – depending on their content – can change the way the title is played and, thus, ‘gamed.’ 

From a competitive standpoint, online games have players that are loosely described as ‘meta slaves’ – that is, they rarely deviate from the tactics considered to achieve the best results.

But in gaming, like life, a refusal to evolve and adapt can lead to stagnation and being left behind. That’s why the meta, and its constant revolution, are so crucial to the world of online games.


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About the author

Kyrie Mattos