Friday, January 27, 2012

Richard Garfield's Ideas On Metagaming And Eve Online

"What is it about the metagame that breathes life into the experience of game-playing? Through the metagame, players are inducted into a larger game community. Often, the metagame is an event in which many, many people are playing—more than can possibly compete in the smaller base game. The event can become so large that no individual can know all parts of the game; while no single participant has the complete picture, each person has insight into some small piece of the game. The contributions of each participant become integral to the game event."

- Dr. Richard Garfield, creator of Magic: The Gathering, The Duelist #5

I used to play Magic: The Gathering back in in 1995-1997 and used to buy every issue of The Duelist.  I was excited when I found Dr. Garfield's article was now online and could read it again 16 years after I first read it.  The Duelist article was the first time I had heard the term metagame.  Back then the idea of a larger community was pretty cool.  I still think it is cool, but in Eve Online metagaming is a dirty word in some quarters.

Dr. Garfield's writings on the metagame, 8 years before Eve Online launched, foreshadowed the type of sov warfare we see in Eve today.
"Metagames tend to have application or meaning beyond the game itself; often, they seep into real life. Doing well in metagames may require money or stamina; it may even be influenced by things like how you dress or where you live. Some say this detracts from the game, but in my opinion it is neither good nor bad; it is simply a part of the metagame that the base game does not have. Endurance is not essential to winning a rubber of bridge, but it is essential to winning a tournament. In a game of Killer, the fact that you have an 8 A.M. class may play a significant role in your strategy. And if you are in a ping-pong ladder, it may be frustrating that the only person you can challenge is hard to pin down, but that's part of the game, too."
I'm not an expert on Eve's null sec metagame, but I try to read everything I can from people who do.  The talk of where one lives and events totally outside the game in players' normal lives calls to my mind the situation between the Cluster F**k Coalition and White Noise. which led to the CFC overrunning Branch.  And the description of the ping-pong ladder pretty much describes the difficulty of a coalition in Europe fighting a North American coalition.

Before continuing, you may want to read the full column by Dr. Garfield because I am about to introduce the writings of one of the masters of Eve's metagame, The Mittani.  The Mittani's column, Sins of a Solar Spymaster, is full of Eve sneakiness, but I'd like to point to this column "The Art of Nullsec War" as an example of how elements of metagaming apply to success at the very highest levels of Eve political game play.  I'm not going to actually do any analysis because having a high sec carebear pontificate on null sec war is pretty silly.  So what I'll do is post a video that someone did based on the column and let you decide for yourself just how much of Dr. Garfield's thoughts on the metagame actually apply to Eve Online.

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