Esoteric Gaming

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

Introduction to the Second Issue!

Oh man; has it really been over a year!? Massive apologies; the world sort of went to shit.

It took a while, but I’ve remembered that there’s all sorts of forms for resistance, and one of them is by sharing stories with each other. It has the potential to bring us closer together, showing that we’re all minimally human and do human things… sometimes funny, eccentric things… but meaningful, understandable things.

Anyway, wow, we’ve got some amazing stories to tell in this Second Issue of Esoteric Gaming! Personal accounts, all of them, that detail particular ways of playing games, expanding the gamut of play experiences.

From Kelly M. Tran, we have a hilarious account of cake and portals (but not that cake and not that Portal) and instadeath, just one story of emergent narratives that come out of the sandbox play of Minecraft. It’s often these wow-I-can’t-believe-that-happened stories we tell each other long after a game is over and that matter to us most. These events surprise us and delight us–a confluence of rules, actions, timing, agency, and consequence.

Nick Bowman confesses his guilt over “cheating” in MLB: The Show while playing his alter-ego, Mangosteen, a rising baseball star. But this star has a secret to success even more effective than juicing up: the hand of god (or, I guess, the hand of Nick) can just reset the game and try again if his avatar messes up. Despite this being a single-player game, Nick becomes disillusioned with this ability and sort of rage quits, disappointed in himself and Mangosteen. We benefit from a great reflective write-up. Don’t worry, Nick, we’re not judgy at all…

We also have a story from Kevin Miklasz that’s super heartwarming in time for the holidays! He used to play Mega Man 2 with his mom, both of them relying on each other like some sort of alien-Venom-Spidey symbiotic pact to get through a particular difficult level in the game. They were both good at different parts, but those parts transitioned in an instant, and his account of rapidly switching who was controlling Mega Man is exciting and exhilarating!

Finally, we have Nathaniel Poor’s account of guildies multi-boxing in EverQuest 2 and even going in self-imposed exile to continue their multi-boxing practice. Wow.

Additionally, Nat has been a tremendous instigator this year, pushing me (Mark Chen) in getting this issue out, first by submitting something and then basically volunteering to co-edit and solicit more stories from others. I don’t know whether to thank him or be suspicious of a coup, but I suppose the latter would assume too much weight on the profile of this site. He joined Kristin Bezio and I in editing the write-ups and communicating with authors to ensure at least a modicum of consistency of style and tone. To me, this is perfect and exactly how I planned. Just a bunch of friends getting together in their spare time to pitch in and make something good with no deadlines or pressure. Fuck the traditional academic publishing cycle!

That said, we’ve agreed that we probably should have some deadlines just to set some cut-off dates to publish future issues. So, we’ll be sending out a CfP for Issue Three soonish and announce the deadline for that… Prob the summer…

Thanks for reading! And please feel free to submit a story idea to Esoteric Gaming (and read what we’re about first…)!