Driving Like a Zombie

I’m a little obsessive compulsive. Not in the “lock and unlock the door 16 times before I leave” league; my obsessions are more about doing things in the right way. I’m the sort of person who will create a spreadsheet to track GTA Race results rather than scribbling them down on the back of an envelope. Consequently, I wouldn’t have thought I’d enjoy warping games that have had thousands of gameplay development pounds spent on them.

The thing is though, I do.

I first heard the term metagaming in a Major Nelson podcast way back before you could play Peggle in WoW. If I remember correctly, he mentioned playing the original Burnout Red vs. Blue on Xbox Live and coming across a room where gamers were playing their own cat and mouse variant. The new rules were not enforced by the game engine but were being mutually respected by all the players; a rare thing even when playing normally.

GTA 4 Dead
Not so different after all!

I didn’t think much of it at the time but as I obsessively keep all the games I buy and my gaming social circle are increasingly doing the same, people are coming up with more ingenious ways of extending the life of an old classic. Just four weeks ago, playing Team Deathmatch on GTA IV, a certain birthday boy left the room to use his facilities. By the time he’d got back (admittedly he had drunk a lake of beer), 15 players including myself had all moved to the opposing team, dressed ourselves in the zombie skin and had agreed we’d only attack his single player team using knives. Cue much zombie groaning, made all the more hilarious by proximity voice – it was nicknamed GTA 4 Dead.

Another example was completing all 20 GTA Races over 5 weeks maintaining an F1 style score board (10 points for first, 8 for second, 6 for third all the way down to 1 for eighth). It injected a genuinely different experience, some new tactics and was intriguing to see how player alliances and grudges ebbed and flowed as each week passed.

There are a few games that make a selling point of metagaming – remember all of GRAW’s options for online play? Those options tended to be left by the wayside and the default configurations were played. Perhaps a game has to sate a competitive online requirement before it can be remoulded to extend its life or perhaps it just takes time, either way we seem to be enjoying our games online for longer and that can only be a good thing.







One response to “Driving Like a Zombie”

  1. Lorna avatar

    Squeezing new life out of old games will come ever more to the fore I imagine with many purse strings tightening. Not only is it good from the point of view of saving a few pennies but it reminds me of the days of playing as a kid when we would explore every nook and platform of a game world (as much as we could) rather than try and blast through to get it completed or get the points.

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