Esoteric Gaming

Extraordinary Feats of Player Practice (in Pursuit of the Perfect Game)


This site celebrates diversity in gaming. Specifically, we appreciate that different people make and play games differently, and some of these gaming practices are amazingly intricate and esoteric. We feature amazing stories about gaming practice, highlighting the awesomeness in all of us as we make meaning and sense of the (gaming) world through struggle, rebellion, and the arcane.

This site started as Mark Chen‘s idea of a book project about esoteric gaming practices that require effort, technical skill, and/or innovative workarounds to barriers or constraints that prevent one from playing a game the way they want. The book was to touch on, among other things, expertise in games, identity, different literacies, player agency, and sociomaterial / sociotechnical arrangements of play spaces.

We had an initial call for submissions in 2015 and decided to go digital since we started seeing a diversity in form as well as stories and felt that a website would allow for a more open format. We hope to feature long-form essays, short pieces, academic-leaning esoterica, videos, and other media. Bring it on!

One goal is to still produce a book, though. Think coffee-table book. Art book. Lovingly illustrated and designed stories of gaming.

If that all sounds good, go read our initial post about K-Mart and this lovely essay on esoterica.

Those are what this site is about. Esoteric gaming practices that are convoluted and detailed, that tell us about subcultures of gamers, that when examined or even just revealed shed light on the awesomeness of gaming.  

The site is also about critical consumption, modding, and hacking, possibly as an argument to see these practices as distinct from *making,* though not any less valuable. There’s value in consuming, in serious leisure, because of the attachments and meaning people place in their activity. There’s value in the pursuit of the perfect game.