In a counterpoint to yesterday’s article, Sheimaruen contacted me to talk at length about the other side of the coin, the subject that tends to be glossed over in many an article regarding the issue of Metagaming: that of the Lazy GM.
To put it simply, Metagaming occurs whenever a player knows something that the GM is unaware of.
Therefore, if a Player is knowledgeable of a given setting (say Star Wars, or Dune, or A Song of Ice and Fire) and the GM isn’t, then metagaming will naturally happen by virtue of the difference of knowledge between both parties.
In a nutshell: A lazy GM who refuses to put in the effort to know the setting of the game is running, doesn’t have the right to accuse players of Metagaming when they know something that he doesn’t. Knowledge is a virtue, and shouldn’t be presented as an undesirable trait in players.
I found this particularly interesting since it does present a different view from mine. I agree though that these are the tricky situations. I don’t think there’s a GM out there who hasn’t run into this sort of thing when running an established setting. I know of many, many GMs who balk at running games where their players know more than they do simply to avoid the kind of conflict that crops up when players cry foul because a GM makes a misstep.
Sheimaruen raised a potential solution to the disparity of information, which is that the GM should make his extent of knowledge clear from the start of the game, and let the players fill him in on the details. This way the GM and the players both know the same amount of information.
Ultimately, Sheimaruen’s point is that both parties should apply a certain amount of effort towards learning the setting. GMs owe it to their players to do reasonable amounts of research, and players should exercise the same discipline. Likewise both parties are responsible for the proper use of such information. GM’s don’t spring some obscure nugget of information on a Player and punish the character for it, and Players should also pay attention to how and when they introduce information to the game so that it enriches rather than harms the play experience for everyone.