Baseball Fans Rule In An Online Game Made For Pandemic Times

Barry Gordemer | September 29, 2020
A screenshot of Blaseball's interactive story.
A screenshot of Blaseball’s interactive story.Blaseball

If baseball played in empty ballparks seems a little too surreal, then you might prefer Blaseball. It’s an online baseball game that takes the surreal and combines it with a teaspoon of bizarre, a quarter cup of insanity and a pinch of weird.

Back in April, when social distancing was first becoming a thing in the U.S., Blaseball co-creator Sam Rosenthal was looking for a way for people to stay connected during the pandemic.

The solution: a wacky version of baseball where fans work together from afar to change the rules of the game and sometimes even change the laws of physics.

Blaseball co-creator Sam Rosenthal was looking for a way for people to stay connected during the pandemic.
Blaseball co-creator Sam Rosenthal was looking for a way for people to stay connected during the pandemic.Blaseball

It’s about “building community and organizing against malevolent forces beyond your control,” Rosenthal tells NPR’s Morning Edition.

You start by picking a favorite fictional team. Among the choices are the Kansas City Breath Mints, the Breckenridge Jazz Hands and the Canada Moist Talkers.

Then you bet fake currency on fake teams that play each other 24/7.

Blaseball isn’t much to look at. It’s just a screen full of miniature score boards showing balls, strikes, outs and a short play-by-play spelled out in text.

There are also updates about strange events. For example, you might learn that an umpire incinerated a player with his eyes or a pitcher has grown an extra finger. Sometimes a game will be interrupted by unusual weather. It might start raining peanuts.

After a little while, you realize that Blaseball really isn’t a game. It’s more of an interactive story and the fans determine what happens next. One week the fans decided they wanted to bring a player back from the dead.

“What we’ve seen fans do so far is unbelievable. They’ve been making incredible artwork,” Rosenthal says. “The fans of the Seattle Garages have full albums with music about what’s happening in the game and the fans themselves add so much color to the world.”

So, play Blaseball at your own risk — and beware of raining peanuts.

To hear NPR’s interview with Rosenthal about Blaseball, click the audio button above.

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