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Why ‘Blaseball’ is an absurd delight—and what it means for the metaverse

Stephen Bell, Joel Clark, and Sam Rosenthal have invented a new kind of game and a new form of design to accommodate it.

Why ‘Blaseball’ is an absurd delight—and what it means for the metaverse
[Illustration: James Clapham]

The New York Millennials face off against their dreaded rival, the Kansas City Breath Mints. All players named Dan are unilaterally given the moniker “Peanut.” A solar eclipse incinerates random players during the bottom of the third inning. All of these things have taken place at some point, somewhere on the digital playing field of the delightfully absurdist game Blaseball—created by Stephen Bell, Joel Clark, and Sam Rosenthal of the game-design studio the Game Band. Launched in July 2020, Blaseball combines elements of baseball, fantasy sports, and betting into a web-based simulation game. A simulator plays all the matchups simultaneously, and fans experience the action only through text descriptions of what happens during each at bat. If the game itself sounds novel, the rabid fan culture that’s risen up around it is more so, with players extending the Blaseball universe via Twitter team accounts, Discord communities, made-up broadcasts on Twitch, and more. Blaseball has introduced the studio to a very different kind of design, one that is rapid, free form, and imperfect by its nature. “We throw out a bunch of broken, messy systems and let the community respond and help us figure out where they want to take it next,” says company founder Rosenthal. Season 1, which ran during a five-day stretch in July 2020, attracted 500 players; hundreds of thousands joined in the months that followed, elevating a player named Uncle Plasma to MVP and demonstrating how peanut allergies can influence actual games. The Game Band raised $3 million in seed funding in May to build a mobile version.

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About the author

Jeff Beer is a staff editor at Fast Company, covering advertising, marketing, and brand creativity.

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