The Metagame is the second project by Local No. 12, a game design collective that includes myself, Colleen Macklin, and John Sharp.
Launched in 2011 at the Game Developers Conference, the Metagame was played by 3,000 players over the weeklong conference. It was take up so passionately by players that we ran a successful Kickstarter campaign around the game and used the funds to create a boxed edition that is now available for sale.
The original Metagame focuses on videogames. The subsequent Culture Edition (published in a special edition of Esopus Magazine) expands the project into the realm of music, film, literature, and other forms of art, media, and design. 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.
As a simple game that uses culture as its raw material, I find this project a fascinating case study in the creation of a highly flexible game system. The videogame edition requires a certain amount of game literacy; the culture edition is often enjoyed by people that normally don’t play games. I’ve written about the Metagame on my blog, including this posting on the history of the game, and this one about the design principles behind the original conference version.