I’m rarely able to beat a Pokémon game. Some bosses in RPG’s give me a lot of trouble. Battles in Europa Universalis 4 are extremely difficult for me. What is going on? I have been playing games for my whole life and I still have trouble with a lot of things in video games. Especially when it comes to the finer things in video games. The meta, the nitty and gritty of gaming. This article is mainly just a braindump of various things about metagaming. If you don’t really know what I’m talking about, this Wikipedia article and Urban Dictionary explains it quite well. Also, I’m curious, feel free to leave a comment in the comment section with your opinion and/or your experiences.
So, do I need to git gud at playing games? To be honest, I don’t think my gaming skills are lacking. I don’t mean to brag but I have beaten quite a lot of games.
I think that the biggest issue with my gaming skill is that I’m a jack of all trades. I have basic skills in almost every gaming genre due to my gaming collection but I haven’t specialized in any particular genre.
This lack of knowledge always comes back to bite me in the behind. For example, in Super Mario Odyssey, I’m unable to perform the Cappy Jump. Or, in Etrain Odyssey, my team build is either so unbalanced or too diverse. And when I encounter a powerful enemy, I always know that I’m in for either a restart or for a longer battle than usual.
The fact that a lot of people upload their gameplay onto YouTube or talk about various mad tricks on their blog is not helping. When I’m watching a gameplay video and somebody is performing a trick with ease that I’m unable to perform, I get jealous.
Now, certain things are quite difficult to explain as well. Take for example the combat in Europa Universalis 4. Whenever I’m a multiplayer match with MiseryLC, he is always talking about how he is building his army or which terrain he is using to fight the enemy. This gets extremely confusing to me extremely quickly.
An easier and more universal example is, try to explain how every jump works in a Mario game and how to perform it. It gets quite challenging to do that. I experienced this difficulty first hand when I was explaining how Lara Croft controls in the fan-made levels of the Level Editor. I had to rewrite that section at least 10 times before I was content with it.
Let’s talk a bit more about one of the examples I gave in the introduction of this article. I haven’t been able to beat certain Pokémon games because my team isn’t diverse enough to beat the Elite Four easily.
I haven’t been able to beat the original Pokémon Red/Blue and Yellow, yet, I have been able to beat Pokémon Gold/Silver and Platinum, the sequels of that game. Granted, I abused the cloning glitch the first time, but the second and third time, I had beaten the game completely legit.
My issues with the meta gameplay come when my friends want to challenge me in a duel. Almost every time and also when I prepare myself on a duel, I get beaten. In various cases, I’m even unable to defeat one or two of their Pokémon.
This problem isn’t unique to Pokémon for me. There are several RPG games in my backlog where I’m just unable to progress due to me either having to grind or be unable to beat a certain boss. Take Atelier Rorona as an example, I haven’t been able to get any other ending because I rarely plan out my journey and I always have to race the clock to be able to meet the goal.
For this article, I sat down and thought about why I was having so much trouble with these kinds of mechanics. And I think I might have a reason. For of all, I have a lot of trouble remembering the weapons triangle. Let’s take Pokémon again as an example. The main battle mechanics are a rock/paper and scissor model. Rock beats scissors. Scissor beats paper and paper beats rock. But, there are more than three types of Pokémon. Take a look at this type chart from Reddit user u/ar-gee.
Now, this chart is quite handy. But then game throws an additional wrench in the works. The fact that some Pokémon has more than one type. This makes this chart even more complicated. And let’s not get started about the strength of certain moves and the special stats.
Whenever you level up in an RPG, you see a ton of stats rise of your characters. More often than not, I rarely pay attention to them. When I’m buying gear for my characters, I always make sure that the previous gear is stronger than their current gear. In turn-based RPG’s, this isn’t such a big issue. But in real-time strategy games like Rise of Nations, that’s where things get even more tricky.
During a match in any real-time strategy game, I always create a random army. A handful of soldiers, some cavalry and some archers. Rarely I know which balance to maintain. When my enemy attacks, I always send in my whole army. Instead of trying to think which units are the most effective to use.
Now, knowing the mechanics is one thing. Being able to train them is another thing. How do you train yourself in building a better Pokémon team or upgrading the right stats in an RPG? Or having a better army balance in a real-time strategy game. Barely any game gives you feedback where the weaknesses and/or strengths are in your team. Maybe one day…
Do you need to know?
I could keep giving example after example. But, do I need to know the meta mechanics of a game in order for me to enjoy it? Well, that really depends on one thing for me. If I’m able to enjoy myself and continue in the game.
I barely know anything about the meta gameplay of the Pokémon games yet, I’m able to beat certain mainline Pokémon RPG games. While I don’t have the strongest or the best team in the game, I’m able to finish the game.
On the other hand, you have to Remember Me. In this game, the combat is rather rhythmic and you have to perform a lot of button combos for the stronger attacks. Now, if there is one thing I’m not that good at, it’s keeping a rhythm. There is one boss I need to defeat in Remember Me, but because I’m always unable to preform the button prompts in time, I always lose. And yes, I have rage quit the game.
Of course, the meta is quite important. There are certain games where I’m even able to abuse the meta. Indiana Jones and the Infernal Machine on the PC is one example. I know how to abuse certain mechanics to reach certain places that can’t be reached by certain means. Just take a look at the speedruns of the game to get an understanding of what I mean with how broken the roll and the chalk is in this game. If only I was able to perform these tricks with greater ease, I would compete in this speedrun category.
The obvious importance of the meta in games is for the people who play online and/or in a competition. I don’t think I have to explain that. Maybe that’s another reason for me. I barely play online or in a competition. It just doesn’t interest me that much. I prefer to play games on a casual level, in my own time.
Before I continue to ramble on about this topic, I think it’s time to finish this article. I might return on this topic but I would like to know what you, the readers think. If I revisit this topic, what do you want me to talk about? Am I alone with these “issues” or are there other people? Do you need to “git gud”?
With that said, I have said everything I wanted to say about this subject for now. I want to thank you for reading this article and I hope you enjoyed reading it as much as I enjoyed writing it. I hope to be able to welcome you in another article but until then, have a great rest of your day and take care.
4 thoughts on “Gamer’s Thoughts: The Meta Skill”
I can relate. I used to play some Age of Empires II, which is very demanding especially if you’re trying to play competitively. A lot of micromanagement there. I liked that game, but I was never really good at it.
As time goes on, I lose both the ability and the inclination to “git gud”. If there’s something I have to git gud at, it’s getting a better salary and better benefits and all that everyday real life depressing stuff. As far as games go, while I like a challenge, I don’t have the time to deal with a game that demands dozens of hours of training from me to meet it. That’s not to say that those games aren’t any good, just that they aren’t any good for me anymore. Ten years ago I would have given you a different answer completely.
For all those reasons, I like it when a game offers a wide variety of difficulty settings so players who want to get deep into the meta gameplay and have a real challenge can do that, while players who just want a bit of an escape don’t have to worry about it.
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Yup, you hit the nail right on the head there. I can’t agree more with what you said.
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You’re not alone! I avoid fighting other players in Pokémon because I’m actually pretty terrible, and I’m incredibly embarrassed about this. I’m used to the game’s way of playing where the NPC opponent will send out something and you can send one from your team out that’s strong against it and they will rarely swap or do anything about it. I’ve also only defeated the Elite 4 in Sapphire and Y but not Yellow or Silver or any others I played. I
I think overall I’m a Jack of all trades for games, like you said, I like playing lots of different things but I’m never ridiculously good at them (unless I get totally addicted to them) and I find it incredibly frustrating when people do so much research into how to play something well because I find that boring, I just want to have fun and do my own thing and I feel like if you don’t discover it yourself it numbs the achievement somewhat. When I used to play Overwatch I found that I’d play sometimes as a ‘practice session’ to keep myself used to playing it and I’d occasionally watch strategy videos but it became more of a chore and I found I wasn’t enjoying it anymore, just trying to keep up with everyone else so I stopped. I usually avoid online gaming as I don’t like the pressure to ‘git gud’ and I don’t really have that pressure in my single-player/offline games!
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It looks like we think quite alike in these things 🙂 Amazing to hear that I’m not alone 🙂