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April 4, 2011 / fcapuno

League of Legends: Discussion – On the terms “Viable”, “Usable” and “Meta Game”

This post is actually spurred by a recent topic on the forums that I’ve read, which of course did get locked before I did get some decent discussion out due to the original poster making a poor example of himself. No hard feelings against the original poster, but you did present yourself poorly there.

Original Topic:

Viable i hate that word so much now. Everyone uses it. “Dude our team is totally viable even though we have a feeding Ezreal with smite in mid totally” “I can play AD Kassadin its a viable stat”

No it isn’t don’t do it. If you have to use the word viable to explain away what your doing to your team your not helping anyone.

This is all of the original post that needs to be seen. He does mention picking AD Kassadin and Ashe being “not viable” or in actuality, he’s actually saying they’re “impossible” to use. Why do I say that? The dictionary. Of course, I’m going to end up copying and pasting much of what I’ve already posted on that topic, but I really want to archive this for posterity.

capable of becoming actual, useful, etc; practicable

There are ways of using the word “viable” and having it be correct. Viability is basically something that is used and has the chance of becoming practical and useful.

There are PLENTY of things in this game that are viable, but do they work? No. That’s when they aren’t viable. The antonym to viable is impossible. Unfortunately, the antonym isn’t applicable in League of Legends since everything works. And MANY things just work poorly.

Though. If you want a more accurate word to describe most players mentality, it’s that they think everything is usable.

1. available or convenient for use
2. capable of being used

Most things in this game are of the second definition. Everything is usable. I can build an Attack Damage (AD) Sona and I can use it. This does not mean it’s viable because it’s not practical. Sona is an AP Caster Support. By definition it’s not viable to build her with attack damage because it is not practical.

Unfortunately, the antonym of useable –  useless – is actually applicable in this game.

1. of no use; not serving the purpose or any purpose; unavailing or futile
2. without useful qualities; of no practical good

Again. Second definition. A lot of things in League of Legends don’t have any useful qualities or are not practical to use, such as that AD Kassadin the original poster was talking about. Many champions excel at different things. You have the choice of actually ignoring those or boosting those depending on the meta game.

On the topic of meta gaming: meta gaming is actually the external factors that affect a game. While it’s easier to apply to a game like chess where the rules are the same, by definition, meta gaming actually blankets over any kind of game you play.

The prefix meta- means “beyond” or “after”. This means that “meta game” means “beyond the game”.

Since there’s no “dictionary” definition of meta gaming, it’s harder to explain with concrete details. Basically though, meta gaming is the external decisions that you make. This includes what decisions people outside the game make to make a move such as buying that Banshee’s Veil for Karthus or that Quicksilver Sash for Malzahar to things such as Champion Selection (i.e. Tanky DPS, Ranged Carry etc).

The way meta gaming works for League of Legends is variable depending on the current trends and what is needed for a match, but by no means is there just no meta game. There’s always a meta game. When you play the game, you are meta gaming whether you like it or not by picking Ashe or Caitlyn or picking your build or just thinking about what you are going to do in a game.

What people are referring to when talking about meta game is the trends that affect the meta game as trends influence us to make certain decisions in a game. This include picking Tanky DPS or that flavor of the month Champion. Those trends end up influencing your personal meta game more than you realize.

-n. -adj.
(in general) to move towards a particular direction

Players in any game will tend to move in the direction that benefits them the most. This includes picking Tanky DPS so they won’t die in a game or joining in the AOE (area of effect) team compositions to take advantage of the damage you can do against a whole team instead of just individual champions.

Unfortunately, the person who did talk about the term “meta game” (Buisiness) did make a point:

I don’t argue with you on that point. However, the context in which 90% of the LoL community uses the term “Metagame” is to specifically describe a way of playing that abuses unintended game mechanics. IE tanky dps meta, AoE meta. Its become a buzzword people use so as not to feel like cheesers who are taking advantage of something broken.

There is a word of truth in that, and at the same time there is a counter argument against that where you are able to abuse any game mechanic you desire. It always depends on what mechanic you want to abuse.



Seriously though, even if I give people all this information to state my case, here’s the bottom line. Even if given the context how these terms are used commonly in the community, it won’t stop people from using them in a somewhat uneducated manner, unless there’s some widespread phenomenon that the community will change their use of the terminology overnight or change them quickly. Those things take time and it takes quite a number of people to change how these terms are used. The way these terms are used are also a type of trend, and as long as people lean toward their incorrect use, it will stay that way.


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