The Metagame by Local No. 12
Based in Brooklyn

Founding date:


Press / Business contact:

twitter.com/LocalNo12 (#TheMetagame)


Brooklyn, NY
11222 USA


Everybody’s got an opinion. The Metagame gives you a chance to exercise your smartest and most ridiculous opinions on just about everything: music and movies, fine art and fashion, junk food and videogames. It’s a game where you do what you already love to do with your friends: talk about culture.

  • The Metagame is a card game where you share opinions about about art, design, media, entertainment, and culture.
  • Gameplay is not about facts - it’s about opinions. It’s not about what you know, but what you THINK.
  • The Metagame is not just one game! There are six unique games you can play with your deck of cards.
  • Created by the celebrated game designers of Local No. 12 - Colleen Macklin, John Sharp, and Eric Zimmerman.
  • The basic boxed set comes with 200 culture cards, 100 opinion cards, and rules for all six games. Film 101 and Sci-Fi expansion sets are launching later this year.
  • Currently distribution is through Amazon.com.

About the Game

Origin story

The Metagame exploded into life at the 2011 Game Developers Conference - as a massively multiplayer card game. Part social experiment and part game design intervention, the creators of the Metagame distributed handfuls of cards everywhere like Johnny Appleseeds of play. By the end of the conference, thousands of players were arguing and debating in the hallways between conference sessions.

It was so successful that Colleen, John, and Eric launched a Kickstarter campaign in the middle of the conference and incorporated as Local No. 12. That first videogame-only edition - and an expanson pack - quickly sold out. As a follow up in 2012, Local No. 12 worked with art magazine Esopus to create a "culture edition" that expanded The Metagame into art, design, media, and culture outside of games.

The experiment in Esopus was the basis for this final edition. A second Kickstarter campaign, which ended a year ago, was used to expand the content, visually redesign the cards, and add several new rulesets. With each of these iterations, the game has become smarter, more polished, and more playable.

How does it work?

There’s not just one way to play - The Metagame comes with six unique games. Each one makes use of both types of cards in The Metagame deck:

  • CULTURE CARDS feature a single cultural object or icon, from the Mona Lisa to Ms. Pac-Man.
  • OPINION CARDS say things like “Which feels like first love?” or “Best reminder of our mortality.”
Some of the games get you debating, and some are more strategic. Some are best for a handful of players and others are designed for dozens of them. The six games are:
  • Matchmakers: match your culture cards to the right opinion cards
  • History 101: put everything in the right chronological order
  • Debate Club - argue to the critics for your hilarious opinion
  • Head to Head - a fast-paced race to get your cards out first
  • Massively Multiplayer Metagame - for big parties and events
  • Metaquilt - a tricky combination of strategy and discussion

What's so special about it?

Power to the players.
The Metagame is less like a single game and more like a game Operating System - it’s a deck that can be used to play a whole bunch of different games. We wanted to make something that inspired our players to be creative and invent their own variations - in fact, the game rules have plenty of hints for creating your own games.

Smart culture.
You don’t usually find games where players have debates like: Which is more fundamentally misunderstood - Fox News or the rainbow flag? The Metagame covers every possible kind of design, media, and art and helps you see culture in new ways.

It's part of tabletop games "growing up."
The Metagame is geared towards culturally literate players who don't think of themselves as gamers. We see The Metagame as offering playful commentary on culture, a la NPR or The New Yorker. This is part of a larger trend in the resurgence of tabletop games, evidenced by the sudden appearance of boardgame cafes throughout the US.

Playable anywhere.
We’ve played The Metagame at hardcore tabletop game conferences and in dimly lit hipster bars. The Metagame works in just about any social setting - just pick the game variation that suits your group and situation the best.

Endlessly expandable.
We let our Kickstarter backers vote on which expansion packs they wanted, and they picked Film 101 (a survey of the last 100 years of the silver screen) and Science Fiction (books, films, games, and other alien goodness). Each expansion set introduces new culture and opinion cards into the mix.

Oh so stylish.
Did we mention the painfully beautiful card designs and snarky bite-sized writing?

Who made it?

The Metagame was created by Local No. 12 - a Brooklyn-based game collective that invents new forms of play. The three founders are prominent designers in their own right.

  • Colleen Macklin has made games for the Red Cross in Africa and Asia and heads up the PETLab game design research at Parsons School of Design.
  • John Sharp is a former DJ and art director who teaches game design at Parsons School of Design. His new book, Works of Game, tackles the intersection of games and art.
  • Eric Zimmerman is a 20-year veteran of the game industry and has created titles like Diner Dash and SiSSYFiGHT 2000. He is a professor at the NYU Game Center.

Wait a second - isn't this just like Cards Against Humanity?

The Metagame is a “creative judgement” game - a tabletop genre with long historical roots. Folk games like Fictionary and Balderdash, as well as commercial titles like Apples to Apples and Dixit all are part of this proud tradition. We love Cards Against Humanity - in fact, we have been told by its creators that Cards Against Humanity was inspired in part by an early version of The Metagame in 2010.


Expand your Metagame!

To offer our players more depth and customization, in September 2015 we released the first of our expansion sets - Science Fiction and Film 101. More expansions are in the works!

Science Fiction

Oozing with otherworldly awesomeness, the Science Fiction expansion incudes classic and contemporary books, film, comics, games, and television. Included are 40 culture cards and 14 opinion cards that let you ask questions like:

  • Which is more fiction than science - Hal 9000 or The Terminator?
  • Which is more alien - The X-Files or Kryptonite?
  • Which reveals the secret meaning of the universe - Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy or The Little Prince?

Film 101

Featuring movies from the 100-year history of cinema, the Film 101 expansion lets players add some silver screen magic to their Metagaming. Included are 40 culture cards and 14 opinion cards that lead to comparisons like:

  • Which is guaranteed to make you cry - Brokeback Mountain or Mommie Dearest?
  • Which created the most enduring cultural myth - Raiders of the Lost Arc or Fight Club?
  • Which is responsible for the most childhood nightmares - King Kong or The Yellow Submarine?


How to Play the Metagame Vimeo


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There are far more images available for The Metagame by Local No. 12, but these are the ones we felt would be most useful to you. If you have specific requests, please do contact us!