Metagaming in FATE

I've been reading and re-reading and talking with my friends ad nauseum about +Robert Hanz's article on Failure (linked below).  It's essential to realize that FATE's goals are completely different from those of traditional "gated challenge" RPGs.  As a result, many of the conventions and taboos we established as younger players need to be revisited.

The idea of Player Knowledge vs Character Knowledge is one of the first pillars of roleplaying--the Theory of Mind as it applies to gaming.  Each table has its own guidelines, but generally, you're encouraged to keep them separate.  If you accidentally caught a glimpse of the dungeon map, stow it.  If the party is separated and your DM is currently running an encounter for the other half of the group, your character can't act on that knowledge.  All of this contributes to the strategic challenge, the idea that the game is a puzzle to be solved (Overcome?) through a series of discrete moves.

Writers of fiction also have a word for this epistemological separation, though: dramatic irony.  It's when the audience is aware of a situation but a character is not, and it can be incredibly exciting.  "No, he's right behind you!"  It just happens that when we're gaming, we're both an audience member and a character simultaneously.  In my experience, this amplifies the effect of the irony, like bringing two magnets of the same polarity closer together.

FATE also makes us writers, more so than other RPGs at least, with the goal of letting us create these sorts of deliciously dramatic situations.  To do so, we start to blur the line between Player Knowledge and Character Knowledge, to the point that we're constantly asked to invent reasons why our characters are acting in certain ways.  Meanwhile, mechanics like Fate Points are almost entirely abstract, player-controlled resources that the characters can't really conceive of.  (Contrast with your character's HP or MP in a more traditional game.  "Verily, mine innards be spilt.")

As it happens, a lot more of the table discussion is what I would've called "metagaming" years ago.  Players discussing with other players or the DM as players instead of as characters.  "Nooo, my precious immersion!  You've broken it!"

Only you haven't.  You've just traded some of it for something better: a cohesive narrative.  As much as the traditional gamer in me hates to admit it, acting on character motivation and tactical soundness alone has never, and probably never will, produce a story with the same emotional resonance as something that has been created with the kind of narrative perspective and control that FATE provides.  Real writers don't invent characters, have them take turns acting out at each other, and record the results.  They create characters that serve a specific purpose in the larger story.  And so should we.

TL;DR - In FATE, the metagame is the game.
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