Though I spend most of my time in Deadwood, I do get out to other places from time to time. During my explorations and opportunities to play in various sims, I have been exposed to a number of styles of roleplay.
Let's start with the use of meters. There are many different types of meters that are used in Second Life. DCS2, CCS, Gorean, Spellfire, Deadwood, Cripple Creek...well you get the idea. One of the major uses of the various meters, is to resolve combat. As you take damage in combat the meter reflects that damage and if your meter drops low enough the animation in the meter will force you to fall and be unable to move. At this point, depending on the sim, you may be considered dead and unable to continue playing for a designated length of time. Using meters, IMHO is an excellent way to resolve combat. Some of the meters, for example, DCS2 will track your victories and losses, they do this because sims that use DCS or CCS use XP, short for experience points. When you reach a certain number of XP based on time spent in the sim you can level up. Some sims allow you to purchase powers rather than levels with your XP. Either way, leveling up or purchasing powers with XP, will make you stronger, more agile in combat.
But what if I don't want to use a meter? There are some sims that use no meter or will allow rp'd combat. Problem for me with rp'd combat is unless you determine ahead of time who will win, the fight could go on forever. Especially if you have one or more individuals who cannot stand to lose. The other issue involves the typing abilities of those involved. When rping a fight you have to describe the actions in detail so that others watching can follow whats happening. If one or both are slow typists this can become a very long drawn out affair. Usually those watching in such instances will lose interest and find something else to watch or do. As you can tell by this post rp combat is not my favorite, however, that does not make it wrong or a poor way to resolve a conflict. I have seen some who were masters at rp'd combat. If that is the style you like you should do that. Now, I will rp a combat if someone wants to, it just is not my preference.
One thing I must mention about meter combat. When you visit a sim for the first time do not go in and attack someone out of the blue. Most sims that use meters tell you in their rules you have to rp into combat and rp the results as well. Most of the better known sims insist on that and will boot you without question if you violate that rule.
I would encourage you to try both methods of combat. You never can tell what you might like till you try it.