The Metagame

The MetagameThere are two kinds of cards: the culture cards (e.g.: the iPhone and the Star Wars Franchise”), and the discussion cards (e.g.: Which is the best icon for the __ century?”). And there are two kinds of roles: the critic (the one who reads the discussion card) and the players (everyone else). The critic selects a discussion card. In this case, because there’s a blank, the critic also decides what to put in the blank, e.g.: 25th). Let’s say there are four players (we could also say there are 100 players if we were playing the “massively multiplayer metagame”), and let’s further say that each player, except the critic, has five cards. The critic asks: “which is the best icon for the 25th century.” The other three pick from one of their cards (for the sake of exemplification, let’s say: the iPhone, the Star Wars Franchise, and “Waiting for Godot”). The critic then calls on each of the players, in whatever order the critic deems critic-worthy, to reveal their culture cards and explain the rationale for its 25th century iconic-hood.

After all have testified to the superiority of their choice, the critic selects what she, in her considered opinion, has determined to be the best and worst answers. The winning player discards any card from his hand. The losing player loses all his cards and joins the critic for the next round – leaving two players and two critics. Players now draw an additional card, and the next round begins. The critics select the next discussion card. The remaining players select their response. And the critics meet to decide which of the remaining players submitted the better answer. The game is over when only one player is left.

This is one of many ways to play The Metagame. We played the Metagame just that way, and have found it fun. Major fun, that is. And when discussing the various mods and variations everso succinctly described in the rule booklet, we could clearly envision: 1) the majorness of the fun in each, and 2) the fun-furthering prospects of yet more mods and variations, and 3) the fun of attempting to create our own.

I quote from Eric Zimmerman (my friend the designer and NYU Game Center professor and writer and totally committed player): “In the Metagame, players use cards to make statements about culture, combining content cards and comparison statements. Like a deck of playing cards, the Metagame can be used to play many games, which range from parlor games for small numbers of players to larger games for parties, classrooms, or events. Some of the games are boisterously social. Other variants are much more deliberate and strategic. The Metagame comes with rules for several versions, but our players are inventing new rulesets on a regular basis and posting them on the Metagame website.”

OK, so, yes, the game is still in its pre-kickstarted version. But, being as scrupulous as possible with the random collection of loyal Game Tasters who happened to attend this particular Tasting, I am pleased to announce that even in its current state, the game is more than promising. And it is most definitely available – in one form or another (the “videogame edition,” for example, available from MOMA). It is like some other games we could think of, but different, unique, and a welcome addition to our party game repertoire. And, most importantly, it is ostensibly and significantly fun.

The Metagame is designed by Eric Zimmerman, Colleen Macklin and John Sharp of Local No. 12. We’ll be posting a follow-up once the latest version has been kickstarted into reality.

Major Fun award

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