Santiago Plaza and Colleen McCann
Hey, you! Are you gay? Do you like sports? Do you draw? Are your math skills, like, decent? Have you ever made a fancam? Did you have a “Welcome to Nightvale” phase in middle school? If you answered yes or no to any of these questions, you might be interested in a little thing called Blaseball. Despite what Google Docs says as we write this, “Blaseball” is not a typo. It’s the name of a unique online experience that combines video gaming, fantasy sports, and surreal cosmic horror with things like sea creatures, giant peanuts, and baseball.
The simplest way to describe Blaseball is that it’s a web-based community engagement game about a randomly-processed, fictional, absurdist game of baseball. In English, it just means that it is a game of baseball made by a computer picking random chances of silly stuff happening, like a player getting struck out because their chances of hitting the ball suck or a player being incinerated because, thanks to the weather being a solar eclipse, the chances of that happening are higher than normal. So how do you actually ‘play’? Well, normally you can play by betting on the games (with fictional money– don’t worry). The money you gain from winning bets can help you make more money through passive means, such as spending money on snacks, which will pay out every time, for example, a specific player hits a home run; or, just keep betting larger and larger sums on games.
However, the ultimate point of the money you earn is to buy votes, which are used in the weekly elections to fundamentally change the game. Literally. Elections can decide between whether the worst team of that season would just get replaced by a whole new team or whether to open The Forbidden Book (guess which one the community picked). This way, the community around the game has a large say in what actually happens in the game, which makes it extremely engaging despite the lack of technical ‘gameplay’. Think of it like you’re listening to the radio broadcast of a live baseball game, only it’s on a website and the players aren’t real. However, you’re not listening to the radio just to see who will win the game, you’re listening because of the game’s lore and its community.
Yes, this silly game about fake baseball has lore, a LOT of it. So much that it would be stupid to try and explain it all here, but here’s an attempt at a recap. Over the past two chapters of the game, which have taken place over a little more than a year, a few gods have been killed, one by another god and the other by the fans, multiple other gods have risen up to help or hurt the league, players have been killed and brought back from the grave with a debt to pay, an entire investigation has sprung up looking into the disappearances of players, gods have staged games between fan-favorites and kidnapped players, the entire league got swallowed up by a black hole, and the Seattle Garages have yet to win a single championship in 24 seasons (they’ll suck forever). This may sound like a lot of abstract and incoherent nonsense, but don’t worry! It is! This game is crazy, confusing, and straight-up enigmatic; it’s really hard to know what’s true and what isn’t or even just what to make of what is known. That’s exactly where the community comes in.
One of Blaseball’s biggest draws is that it’s an inherently social experience. Once you pick your team, you can commune with fellow fans across the world to discuss strategy, lore, and memes to your heart’s content. In the site’s official discord, you can access your team’s lounge to chat live about the current game, coordinate election strategies, and perhaps most importantly, share fan art and write lore for your team’s players. That’s right– the only piece of information that the Blaseball site provides for each character is their randomly-generated name. Everything else– their appearance, personality, backstory, and even relationship status– is up to fans to decide, which is how you end up with characters like Malik Destiny, the gunblade-wielding interdimensional catboy, or Castillo Turner, the sentient cactus with one of the best records in the league. If you ever wondered what it would be like for your own personal headcanons and fanfiction about your favorite characters to magically come true, Blaseball can make that happen.
Wanna get even more involved? Check out Blaseball Cares, the fan-run merch website; not only can you purchase stickers, jerseys, posters and more, but if you’re artistically inclined, you yourself can contribute by becoming an artist and product designer for the site. Not to mention, all proceeds go to a rotating selection of charities, so you’ll be doing a good thing while getting deep into your nerd shit. So, with all this information, how the hell do you get started? Well, if you’re interested, you may have a bit of a wait ahead of you. Blaseball is currently in the middle of a hiatus known as a Siesta, and has been there since July. Siestas are necessary breaks for the developers behind the game to regroup, decide what’s working and what isn’t, and decide on new features to add to the game. The good news, though, is that this Siesta should be closing out soon. And when does Blaseball come back? Honestly, we have no idea what the hell will happen. No one does. The last season ended with the entire universe getting sucked into a black hole after the death of God. Blaseball will come back reinvented, and not even long time fans know what to expect. So, if that long history of lore, strategy, and gameplay intimidates you, you don’t have to worry– because when the new season starts, everyone will be newcomers to the game. So come help figure it out when the time comes. You might even get to help kill God! Again!