We see the term “godmodding” being thrown around often, but I hardly see this come up. Personally, I find metagaming as equally negative, if not worse, than godmodding. Sorry it’s long but welp, this is a fucking blog site after all.
What is metagaming? It’s when a player/mun/writer will influence their character to act upon, use, or even think about information that their character has no way of knowing or is otherwise unavailable to them. Both OCs and canon characters can be effected by metagaming. What the player knows is NOT equal to what their character knows.
- Example 1: A player reads a your character’s biography [or is familiar with your character’s traits through playing the game, etc.] and sees that your character is often treacherous. In turn, the player makes their character immediately distrustful of your character and regards them with constant suspicion with no real basis.
- Example 2: A Templar character instantly knows that your character is an Assassin and confronts them immediately, and there’s been no OOC communication [or even IC explanations] about how or why the Templar character would know based off sight alone.
- Example 3: A character somehow knows your character is married, yet there is no ring on your character’s finger, there’s no past conversations between the player’s character and your character’s spouse, and your character has yet to reveal this information.
- Example 4: You reveal your character’s reactions or intents in an OOC conversation and your partner suddenly changes how their character perceives your character/their surroundings and adjusts how their character acts in-thread.
As you can see, metagaming can range from “the little/silly things” to much larger issues that may essentially force both you and your character into a corner. Metagaming can induce godmodding, force your character OOC, can single-handedly ruin threads/storylines, and can strip the integrity out of collaborative storytelling [roleplaying] entirely.
Why is metagaming so harmful? The act of metagaming can ruin IC threads and relationships. It can put a huge dent in the progression of a storyline or even dampen the development of the effected character. Furthermore, it can either be paired with or lead to godmodding - many people who have been metagamed often feel like their partner has godmodded against them as well.
- Example: Your character planned on deceiving another, thus aiding a plot and providing development opportunities for both characters. Your RP partner metagames, and suddenly their character has great mistrust toward your character with absolutely no realistic basis or reasoning. This just ruined the entire plot.
- Example: Your character is having a very secret affair and your partner’s character suddenly knows, despite absolutely no clues being written into the scene. If your character is confronted, you are basically pushed into a corner with little options and a lack of realism.
Suspenseful plots can die instantly. Character development suffers, and both you as a writer and your character feel cornered. A sense of realism is lost. Metagaming can not only destroy plots, but it’s also pretty fucking rude.
Anons can metagame, too. I can’t count how many times I’ve seen anonymous messages utterly destroy a plot. You do not have to stand for it, and if you respect your RP partner, you will either consult them before ICly reacting to the anon message or ignore it entirely.
What can I do to stop someone who has metagamed? This is, sometimes, a difficult question to answer. The simple solution would be to communicate with your RP partner. Explain that you don’t understand how their character knows that information, and be honest about how it has negatively affected your character’s development and storyline. Communicate, communicate, communicate!
Sometimes it’s not so simple; your partner might respond with reasoning that make sense to them yet don’t make sense to you. They might cite a conversation between their character and another character that your not so sure ever really happened They might claim that gossip or reputation caused their character to assume the things they did. Some of these reasons might be legitimate while others might not fly with you.
So how do you fix this? I return to communication - tell them how you feel about their reasoning, or even offer to come to a compromise.
There are other ways to handle/avoid metagamers. You could purposefully mislead their character - after all, not all people are who they say they are. You could refuse to RP with them until they’ve sorted out their misuse of OOC knowledge IC. You could avoid answering OOC “what if” questions.
I think it’s important to give first-time offenders the benefit of the doubt. Try not to immediately assume someone is trying to purposefully screw up your plot or your character; try remembering that most RPers also want awesome, fun threads. COMMUNICATION between writers is key! That said, if someone constantly disrespects you and your character by metagaming and godmodding, it’s okay to stop writing with them.
Something I’ve done is create a simple page regarding what you may have your character assume about mine inherently. I feel that this not only makes it clear that I want to avoid metagaming, but it also might inspire great opening threads. If you’d like my example, see here.
Bottom line: be a team player, consider your fellow writers, and don’t metagame.