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Game Journalists Go Head to Head in 'The Metagame'

Zonk posted more than 6 years ago | from the ready-fight dept.

Games 23

The Metagame event, held this past GDC in San Francisco, garnered a good deal of buzz ... even if not that many people had a chance to see it. The folks behind GameLab set up another session of the inventive game-knowledge gameshow, and pitted two pairs of journalists against each other to see who could better argue their (randomly determined) cases. The results are not only hilarious, but viewable on the MTV website.

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YAWN (3, Funny)

QuantumG (50515) | more than 6 years ago | (#21371819)

Yeah, that's way more entertaining than, say, reruns of the X-Files.

Re:YAWN (1)

morari (1080535) | more than 6 years ago | (#21372043)

Maybe if the rerun has Agent Doggett in it...

Waste of Time (4, Funny)

Jaqenn (996058) | more than 6 years ago | (#21372027)

You know that scene at the beginning of Space Oddessy: 2001, where the monkeys dispute over the water-pool? By screaming nonsense at each other? MTV recreated that here.

I didn't think either side made a compelling argument for the entire competition. I want my 20 minutes back.

Re:Waste of Time (1)

TellarHK (159748) | more than 6 years ago | (#21377647)

Y'know, I was really disappointed by the quality of the arguments put forth. Seriously, the game idea is fairly weak on its own, but mix that in with people that don't really have any idea how to debate and discuss trivial crap in anything other than a way that sounds like a cancelled Comedy Central gameshow? No.

I would have utterly obliterated the arguments against Half-Life versus Halo, which is as far as I watched - the first segment anyhow. And honestly could have made a good case in the other direction. Anyone that spent far too many hours reading the old WWWF Grudge Match website of a bygone era because they had no life could do that. I mean, arguing that Half-Life was more realistic because Gordon Freeman had glasses and a face? What? There isn't even a Gordon Freeman -model- in the original Half-Life.

These are arguments only one level above "Hal0 sux!" due to enforced cordiality.


Half-Life was more realistic than Halo in that it was based on a twisted form of actual reality, rather than a genericized future world that allowed writers to make everything up as they went along. Halo was never designed to be realistic, it was designed to be an extraordinarly well presented example of the FPS genre in order to showcase the power of the platform (later console) it was designed for. Halo's innovation was not in the reality and depth of story - even its predecessor Marathon series more than one-upped it in that regard.

What made Half-Life more realistic and worthy of a movie treatment (the two arguments I bothered to watch) were the fact it was written in order to allow the player to really experience what it was like to -be- Gordon Freeman, not just controlling some character whose life was scripted out for him. It employed realistic weapons against terrifyingly poor odds and overpowering opponents, and managed to tell more of a story in 1998 than Halo managed years later. How many people who played both games look back at Halo maps and go "Ah, those were the good old days." With the exception of Silent Cartographer, I suspect very few in comparison to the people who recall the pure dread of crowbar-smashing a path through the tunnels leading to the Lambda complex only to wind up in a collapsing sewer pipe.

Yes, the above argument is created by a tired (and slightly pathetic) mind. But it's 5:30AM and I'm going to bed.

And yes, I'd whore myself out to be on that show and really put on a -show- of pointless, completely retarded argument skills.

Re:Waste of Time (1)

CommunistHamster (949406) | more than 6 years ago | (#21380087)

Actually, it was Half Life 2 that didn't have a Gordon model. You could go into third person view with a cheat in Half Life 1 and you could see Gordon.

His hair was ginger though.

The Game. (0, Redundant)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21372039)

You just lost it.

Still a Waste of Time (5, Informative)

Jaqenn (996058) | more than 6 years ago | (#21372129)

Sorry to repost, but I just finished the last clip, and I am so filled with rage that I have to post again saying how much of a waste of time this is.

Question: "Which game better integrates theme and gameplay: Adventure, or Street Fighter 2?"

Team one: "Adventure gives you...adventure. You have this, like, adventure. You get to have an adventure."

Team two: "Street fighter gives you fighting, in the street! You're fighting, in a street! And there is two of you!"

Both teams repeat themselves over and over until time runs out.

Why didn't I just give up and stop watching? Because I am an idiot.

Re:Still a Waste of Time (3, Insightful)

_Sprocket_ (42527) | more than 6 years ago | (#21372415)

Why didn't I just give up and stop watching? Because I am an idiot.
Shhh! Not so loud. You'll give away the secrets to MTV's success.

Re:Still a Waste of Time (2, Interesting)

cicatrix1 (123440) | more than 6 years ago | (#21372753)

Yeah. I got 2 minutes into the "randomness" clip (the 3rd one?) before I gave up. There are so many things wrong with this that watching it made my skin crawl. All I have to say is that one team "won" a challenge by saying that Resident Evil is more random than Tetris -- based on the fact that it's controls are sluggish? Excuse me, WTF? Tetris *is* a bunch of random blocks and RE is on rails!!

The arguments made by either side are completely laughable at how bad they are, and they judgement system is worse. An applause meter? Come on. In a debate style game there should be qualified judges and some majority or ranking system.

I guess it could have some potential if they fixed the scoring and found teams that have any clue. On the other hand, it's hard to call a series of debates with semi randomized qustions a "game show".

Re:Still a Waste of Time (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21374033)

The arguments were garbage, but it would be interesting without the banter and seeing fanbois throw dung at each other. Example: I disagree, Resident Evil is MUCH more random than Tetris. Tetris is a straightforward game, and while the premise is random the gameplay is far from it. All you change in Tetris is the speed the blocks are coming down or the amount of blocks on the screen beforehand. In Resident Evil however, the gameplay and storyline is less predictable. Shock, changes in the perception of a character based on new background information, new things to kill, and new weapons to master. Granted, Resident Evil has less unpredicted changes in the plot than a cheap pulp novel, but it certainly is more dynamic and random than a few geese flying through the sky.

Still a Waste of mods. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21374535)

"Both teams repeat themselves over and over until time runs out."

How's that different than a typical slashdot discussion?

Re:Still a Waste of mods. (1)

neomunk (913773) | more than 6 years ago | (#21389553)

Fewer car analogies.

This was really bad... (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21372303)

The designers of the game were pretty high and mighty about their 'invention', which is pick an argument and have two sides debate it, then decide based on audience reaction. This is going to sweep the nation, then conquer the world. I've never seen anything like it. It truly deserves the name 'Meta game' because it is the game of all games.

And I have to agree that this was really really boring. Not necessarily bad topics of debate, but awful, awful arguments.

Re:This was really bad... (2, Insightful)

Fian (136351) | more than 6 years ago | (#21374215)

I suspect the metagame is really to see if they can get lots of people to watch their crap. If you watched the video, you were "gamed"

Wow...just wow (1)

RichPowers (998637) | more than 6 years ago | (#21372459)

How low are your comedic standards if you can call this crap "hilarious" and keep a straight face?

Needed a better scoring mechanism (3, Interesting)

Dutch Gun (899105) | more than 6 years ago | (#21372881)

I watched the first few clips, and couldn't really take much more than that. The arbitrary nature of picking a winner based on "applause" completely invalidated any sort of game mechanic they came up with. More often than not, it seemed like the winner was chosen randomly because the applause levels were essentially split. A simple electronic voting system would have solved this problem elegantly, and made it feel like a real competition.

I think the concept has some potential, as people generally love getting into these sorts of arguments anyhow. It feels a bit too much like a 'beta' release at the moment, though.

Clips Removed (1)

bateleur (814657) | more than 6 years ago | (#21377893)

Is it just me or are all the clips now inaccessible?

all your feedback (2, Informative)

stephentotilo (1189989) | more than 6 years ago | (#21379231)

I'm the guy you can blame for this. It was my idea. We crunched a 70-minute session into 20 minutes of video. The points of comparison between games are randomly chosen by a computer program. The games being compared are selected off of a game board by the players. I've seen this game run twice. First at GDC and then in the one I participated in on MTV. Both times I thought it was both fun and enjoyably illuminating. Sure, we aired some of the more ridiculous arguments, but I think we achieved something that can be improved on and done well. It gets people talking about games in ways they may never have considered, sometimes to intellectual benefit, believe it or not. I'll continue to look for ways that video game material can make for TV and video that you will enjoy watching. Not trying is not an option. And thanks to those who pointed out how this could be improved. The producers and I recognize many of the same issues and would love to shore up the weaknesses if we get to do another one. -Stephen Totilo MTV News

Re:all your feedback (1)

TellarHK (159748) | more than 6 years ago | (#21380709)

I've been trying to think of a good response to your post, Stephen. I'm even going so far as to assume this is really you, which is a first for me. What's been hanging me up though, is that I'm really torn on what the idea of good game material for television could be.

Should it be something that offers the industry a little cachet of trendiness? Perhaps something a little more sophisticated? Maybe a good sense of humor, with an undercurrent of sincerity? I think there's room for all of these - but that the example we were given of The Metagame didn't seem to know what it wanted to be. From all appearances, it looked like a game of Win, Lose or Draw from the 1980's if you just glanced at the layout for a minute. I've worked in public access television, and I know how much of a pain in the ass it is to get a good set so I feel your pain on that point, but at the same time the actual game itself could have felt a lot more polished.

The topics I watched (the first two) were fairly good ones, with a nice sense of fit to what it felt like you were shooting for until you all started to speak up and then... the answers just came off as though nobody had ever thought of them before. The woman who said Half-Life was more realistic because Gordon Freeman wore glasses? I wanted someone to throw her a laptop and make her play the game because it sure didn't look like she ever had. This may work okay for the MTV crowd, but when it comes to the geeks that actually like the kind of depth these questions offer as a possibility... it's just going to make us wonder what the hell we're wasting time on.

My work in public access was technical - not creative - so I'm sure I'm not the best judge of what I saw, even for a public access loser. However, I was approached to do a show a few months before I left the program I was with, and I wouldn't have let something like this off my scratch drive before dropping it online. It sounds like a different experience in person, but this... just didn't work. The GDC crowd is a much better fit for this kind of material. However.

My completely unsolicited 0.02 would start by suggesting a better host configuration. You don't need two people to corral a debate show. You need one person, like perhaps CleverNickName (Wil Wheaton, if you're new here to Slashdot) who really, truly gets the gaming medium and can get into it in a way that few others will ever manage. I'm sure you've heard his PAX07 keynote. Give the teams at least a visible soft time limit. Maybe 30 seconds twice each for back and forth on a topic before audience judging. And - count some hands! A debate show where the answers are obviously being screwed with (people clapping for -both- options) turns into nothing but your typical forum-based wankery - but it takes up more time to watch on camera than it does to read and/or skip by a few pages of forum posters doing the same kind of non-numerically judged dick waving. Also, why bother having the giant chart of videogames on one monitor? Unless I missed something, that was only relevant when the titles were picked in the beginning. Just use a flash applet and a randomizer instead of sticking another LCD in the shot.

Add a little bit of showmanship to it, and I sure don't mean that challenge logo or whatever it was, that looks like it was slapped together in Windows Movie Maker. Hell, man. Check out and pick up one of those badboys for your editing work.

Now, before I take off (insomnia, yay!) and maybe try and sleep, let me offer up one thing that I have yet to see presented properly on TV. Counter-Strike. I would love to see a Counter-Strike ladder treated in a way that didn't come off as a cheesy attention whorejob. Real commentary, tactical observations by professional operators, critique and observation of player control habits. These are things I'd love to see.

"Look at the way the Counter-Terrorist team is stacking up on the doorway. That's a fine example of SWAT tactics and..."
"... And unfortunately for CT's a perfect time to learn that real-world tactics don't work too well in the face of Terrorist HE grenades. And speaking of tactics, check out Devnull's input layout. He's using a WolfKing Warrior control pad and a Razer Copperhead, so you know his mousing is going to be smooth but then you need to wonder just how the keys on the WolfKing hold up under tournament conditions."

You can see I've either given this a lot of thought, or am thoroughly in the throes of sleep deprivation. Maybe a little of both.

Re:all your feedback (1)

Cookie3 (82257) | more than 6 years ago | (#21388693)

If the flow of games were more natural (either because the games were in the same genre, or because the comparisons between the games made sense), that'd've probably helped a bit.

Crap. (1)

MaWeiTao (908546) | more than 6 years ago | (#21379309)

It's junk like this that makes me embarrassed to play games.

If this is the best anyone can come up with for debating games there's little hope gaming will ever be taken as seriously as novels or films.

Holy hell! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21380337)

This is the stupidest thing you've ever posted Zonk. And that is saying a lot. Please stop now, we all believe you are the dumbest editor, there is no doubt in anyone's mind.

This Was Better at GDC (1)

Castar (67188) | more than 6 years ago | (#21385075)

This one was pretty lame. But there was a great one at GDC 2007. I think there used to be video up, somewhere, but I can't find it - the arguments were much more believable, though, and the moderation was better. Plus, the crowd judging them was larger and made up of game developers.

So... The Metagame is cool, MTV sucks.
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