This jam is now over. It ran from 2019-10-25 04:00:00 to 2019-12-07 05:00:00. View 12 entries

The games contained within this text are old. Not the oldest, but close, close enough that they remember when play was called ritual and games were called gods. Esoteric is a collection of games, sure, but it is also a secret. For, you see, to describe a moment is to trap it. To pass on a memory of a moment is to mock it, stripping it of life and transforming it into clumsy masks and half-truths. Some things can be remembered. But perhaps, not everything must be. 

This is an invitation to play with fire. For Esoterica Jam, the objective is to create game-rituals that could be played with and in relation to Esoteric by Jay Dragon, which can be found here.  

If your time spent playing Esoteric is a healthy one, and all goes well, then you should avoid describing your experiences to others or explaining what the game was like. It will be a secret, contained between the players, and it will die with your memory. Once you start playing, this rule is yours to follow for as long as you choose to continue playing. 
This rule is like all other rules—it should be suspended in the name of safety. Speak of this game if you must, to warn others, or to ask for help. In these golden days, your safety comes before the laws of any game, and if you don’t want to play along, nothing can make you.

It's hard to explain Esoteric. In fact, the text forbids you from doing so. Instead, you are encouraged to read Esoteric (either by purchasing a copy, acquiring a community copy for free, or borrowing a copy from a friend) and from there, follow your heart. If none of those options are available to you, perhaps reading other submissions here or even just the opening page (as duplicated in quotes here) will be enough. I cannot sate your appetite for understanding.

Esoteric is a secret game, to be played under the cover of darkness. You may organize people together to play it, and get the supplies you need, but you cannot speak of what is to come besides to show the text of this game to others. Whoever reads from this book during the games is to be known as The Reader, in addition to any other names they might possess.


Your game should have been written or conceptualized sometime recently, and exists for this jam. Don't use this jam as a promotional space for unrelated works.

Somehow, in some manner tied to theme or concept, the game-ritual written should connect to Esoteric somehow.

Games promoting racism, sexism, homophobia, colorism, ableism, fascism, transphobia, islamophobia, antisemitism, or other bigotry will be removed from the jam.

Areas for Meditation

Consider the following, as inspiration for your game:

  • Age: All games of Esoteric begin with the text "This is an old game." Are your games old? Where did you learn them from? Games are not simply "borne" out of a conscious mind. From what tiny corners of this repentant universe did your game crawl from? Or am I wrong? Is your game new?
  • Tense & Personhood: Games of Esoteric play with tense and personhood. What does it mean to write game instructions in the past tense as opposed to the future imperative, or first person vs. third person? What happens when you play with that within your text? Will it create a more authentic game?
  • Safety & Playability: Games of Esoteric are sometimes safe, but not always. How can the framework of Esoteric create safety? Can your game be played, or is a ritual for consumption?
  • Series & Community: Games of Esoteric exist in a relationship with each other. Is your game a Game of Arrival, a Game of Consumption, a Game of Reanimation, a Game of Mourning, a Game of Autumn Leaves, a Game of Honesty, or something else entirely? What other games does your game exist in dialogue with? How do these games communicate together? What about the other games within the jam - are they connected too?
Before you begin playing, turn out all the lights and put away any machines you have with you. They won’t help you here.


All submissions

No submissions match your filter

Two rituals of shared vulnerability and music
A series of rituals to invite in the Spectre that pursues us
A game of Memory and Reflection for Jay Dragon's Esoteric
an esoteric ritual
A game about swallowed words spoken
A Game of Reanimation. For use with 'Esoteric' by Jay Dragon
A game of creatures and their habits