Metagaming is a broad term usually used to define any strategy, action or method used in a game which transcends a prescribed ruleset, uses external factors to affect the game, or goes beyond the supposed limits or environment set by the game. Another definition refers to the game universe outside of the game itself.
In simple terms, using out-of-game information, or resources, to affect one's in-game decisions.
Types of metagaming in Mafia
Summing up the latest discussions, there are several forms of metagaming:
- Passive metagaming - see someone online and not post (unavoidable). This can increase pressure on a player, yet failing Internet connections are not unheard of and people have been lynched because some assumed he did not post because he did not want to.
- WIFOM metagaming - e.g. "X was not night-killed in N1, therefore X is a baddie if he survived N1". This often leads to WIFOM as baddies might purposefully spare that person to make him suspicions. Feel free to use this at your own risk. Thinking (or stating) that player X always does something therefore he is baddie/goodie/whatever is another form of meta-gaming that can lead to WIFOM reasoning. After all, each of us is able to change his/her patterns to fool others. Also, knowing what a player does IRL can also lead to this (since you'll consider him inactive and he might have had a chance to submit actions, etc).
- Player reputation metagaming - this is also unavoidable. If you expect an experienced player is a goodie and have no previous information of an important goodie role to kill, then you will target that experienced player. It's unavoidable after a while, and it makes surviving N1/D1 really difficult for some.
- Active (stalking) metagaming - which should be avoided at all costs. Basically, lurking in the thread (or as a guest/anonymous) and watching who comes on and who reads the thread and who uses the personal messenger falls into this. This can be avoided by coming in anonymously, but it is cumbersome. Also, unchecking the last active on option in your profile helps avoiding information leaks. But all in all this makes Mafia less fun if you need to miss coming on your favorite forum for a complete day just to lie low enough for anyone to notice you. You should be able to lie low (not be inactive, just conveniently not be there) if your character's role requires you to do it.