Meta-Literacy in Gameworlds

Silviano Carrasco, Susana Tosca


This paper proposes the notion of “meta-literacy”, understood as the player´s ability to navigate between spheres of reality and/or cross boundaries when interacting with a gameworld. We examine how meta-aesthetics functions in vide ogames and argue that it is relevant at both the fictional level (intertextual literacy) and at the ludic level (self-referential literacy). The user will have to activate their meta-literacy in order to understand relationships between the levels of a video game, several different video games or the video game itself and “reality”. We present examples in every category and show how players naturally navigate this complexity. We propose that meta-literacy works in this media as an ability to recreate a bridge between the ludic and the fictional, to use our game repertoire, and to connect disparate levels of reality in an aesthetic experience that is no less unified than that of other art forms. We’ll conclude that accounting for meta-literacy is indeed relevant for understanding the pleasures of inhabiting not only gameworlds but also virtual worlds of all kinds.


gameworlds; video games; meta-literacy; meta-aesthetics; self-referentiality; metalepsis

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