Instead of talking about the games you like, Local No. 12’s Metagame asks you to discuss the games you disliked or felt “meh” about. The comparisons Metagame makes aren’t just “which is better,” but specific questions like “which is more tragic?” Nico Dicecco at Medium Difficulty articulates how these specific questions encourages thoughtful videogame critique.
Metagame is also notable for what it has to teach us about the dynamic between critical engagement and nostalgia. So often, when I have informal discussions about games, and about the canon of gaming, I find my arguments are rooted in little more than fond memories of formative days in my youth. “Of course Police Quest is a great game,” I sometimes catch myself saying, “I spent hours working through it.” But the frame provided by a prompt like, “Which game gives players more freedom?” or “Which game has more progressive gender politics?” forces me to engage with what the game actually does relative to the culture of its emergence. It invites a level of historical engagement that is often lacking from critical discussions of games. There is room, of course, for an appeal to nostalgia – especially with something like the comfy slippers prompt cited above – but the best arguments recognize that appeal as such, and use it as one piece of evidence in a broader strategy.