This year’s Hugo ballot has a (one-year-only) Best Video Game category. I had heard of (but not played) most of the nominated games, but was curious about one in particular that I had never heard of: Blaseball.
Turns out that it’s a free, web-based “absurdist […] take on fantasy baseball,” in which you bet imaginary money on imaginary sports teams with names like the Houston Spies, the Seattle Garages, and the Atlantis Georgias. (And player names like Anathema Elemefayo, Quantum Flahwah, Cravel Gesundheit, and Anastasia Isarobot.) And you also vote on things that change the game over time, such as “new rules ranging in absurdity from adding a fifth base to redistributing the best players from the best teams,” or giving the players extra limbs.
And other stuff happens besides the games:
Over the course of [the first] eleven seasons, a story unfolded: forbidden knowledge was accessed, players were incinerated by rogue umpires, the dead were revived, and all of Blaseball banded together to fight against a giant peanut god that threatened to destroy everything.
And there’s also a vast amount of not-necessarily-canon fan lore and fan activity.
The whole thing sounds potentially like a lot of fun, but also potentially like a huge time sink, and I do not need another hobby. But if you want an overview of what Blaseball is and what’s happened so far, an IGN article (whence I got the quotes above) seems to me to be pretty good.
Among the multitude of fanworks related to the game, I just came across an audio recording of Blaseball: The Musical—The Deaths of Sebastian Telephone. It was “Written, rehearsed, recorded, and edited over the course of three 24 hour intervals.” And I don’t know the characters or the backstory, so I only listened to parts of it, but I was charmed by the sweet queer love song “I Brushed His Hand” (from about 19:10 to about 21:45), which doesn’t need any backstory or context at all except that the characters who are singing it are two blaseball players. However, the musical as a whole does start with a whole lot of content warnings, including deaths of LGBTQ+ characters, so if you want to listen to any of the musical other than that song, I recommend looking at the content warnings first.
Anyway. I probably won’t vote in the Best Video Game category, because I probably won’t be familiar enough with any of the games. But I was intrigued enough by this Blaseball rabbit hole that I figured it was worth posting about.