What is the so-called “META” of video gaming, and why is it important to video gaming as a culture and cognitive exercise? By “cognitive exercise” I mean the experience of gaming as a rule- and rewards-based event that requires one’s cognitive functions to perform successfully and routinely. In this context, it is possible extrapolate the consideration of META to apply to all forms and genres of gaming that rely on cognitive function for performance. Likewise, it can be said with some confidence that the META of video gaming is derivative of the META of all gaming.
But what do we mean by META? And how is it related to gaming as a “competitive” cognitive exercise?
The theory of a “Meta” for video gaming is not new but perhaps, newly discovered, in that more attention is being paid to its creation and maintenance as a cognitive knowledge structure. These act as inputs to the formulation of behavior scripts that define an individual’s actions and reactions given a specific environment.
As one participates in a competitive activity, such as “chess”, or volleyball, they develop a knowledge structure that reflects her or his continuously evolving strategy to achieve the game’s Primary Objective. Here, the word “strategy” includes the adaptive learning of the game’s mechanics, as well as, the player’s various functions within the gaming environment. Moreover, it is influenced and recognizable by its constantly changing, tactical expressions.
Given this definition, the META of video games such as “Flower” can be equated to the evolving strategies and tactics necessary to complete each map (see Video below).
With repetition, a player becomes more proficient through trial and error, thereby informing and rewriting her or his META for the game. META efficiency, therefore, is analogous to performance proficiency. In other words, the more proficiently a player performs in the attainment of the game’s Primary Objective, the more efficient the META upon which the performance is based. In this way, performance proficiency and META efficiency are directly tied to repeated play and exposure to the game.
Figure 1 is a visual representation of the creation and maintenance of the META for the video game, “Flower.”