What’s an ARG? Is blaseball one? If I like blaseball, what are some other games I should check out? Get these answers and more in this episode of your friendly neighborhood blaseball podcast!
Listen to the ARGonauts podcast: www.theorangegroves.com/argonauts
Follow the ARGonauts on Twitter: @ARGonautsPod
Follow Andrew on Twitter: @CohostSherms
Follow Marn on Twitter: @corpserevivers
Follow Businessmun Ferret, the Business Flerret on Twitter: @BusinessFlerret
Follow us on Twitter: @blaseball_pod
Email us: email@example.com
Drop us a tip on Ko-fi: ko-fi.com/blaseballpodcast
Welcome to the Show by Kevin MacLeod
Breakdown by Kevin MacLeod
Sad Trio by Kevin MacLeod
RetroFuture Clean by Kevin MacLeod
Upbeat Forever by Kevin MacLeod
Organic Grunge by Kevin MacLeod
Kimberly: Hey there! You're listening to Take Me Out To The Blall Game, the world's most otherworldly blaseball podcast. I am your host, Kimberly Dauber, and I use she/her pronouns. So, lately some people have been referring to blaseball as an alternate reality game or an ARG. Now, blaseball is, of course, a game, but it's very real, so I'm not really sure what's up with the “alternate reality” part. But, when I thought of it, I realized that I might have discovered some part of the multiverse where blaseball manifested as some sort of Internet game because— here's what happened: this really weird VHS tape just got yeeted into the sky the other day, so, of course, I caught it, and then, when I played the tape, it gave me some really oddly specific instructions for how to meet some people called the ARGonauts, with a capital A-R-G. This was highly suspicious, so of course I had to go and check it out. And when I did, and I met these ARGonauts, I'm pretty sure I was able to fool them into thinking that I was not, in fact, a literal blaseball in the sky with a microphone but, in fact, some sort of hairless ape like the two of them. So what happened next is what you're about to hear, but first, a word from our splonsors:
This episode of Take Me Out To The Blall Game was splonsored by Businessmun Ferret, the Business Flerret.
Businessmun Ferret: Have you or a loved one been injured by a rogue umpire? Has your team forced you to go through an unwanted exploratory surgery? Well, no longer! I, Businessmun Ferret of the Flerret firm, am here to make sure you get the representation you deserve! As blaseball’s first deflense attorney, I admit that I have a daunting task ahead of me, but do not worry! I promise I will do my best to make sure you receive adequate compensation for the many horrors you may face on the field! So no longer do you need to worry about what happens if you suddenly find yourself batting for another team or sent to an alternate dimension! Call 1-800-555-LLAW for your free consultation! That's 1-800-555-LLAW. Together, we can deal with any curveballs they throw at us!
K: You can find Businessmun Ferret, the Business Flerret, on Twitter @BusinessFlerret, and now, back to the show.
Hello, listeners, we are back. You’re listening to Take Me Out To The Blall Game. I am here with two special guests today. Why don't you two introduce yourselves? What’s your name, what's your pronouns, and is the Commissioner doing a great job?
Marn: Hello! I am Marn, I use she/her pronouns. Uh, I think the Commissioner is doing a fine job.
Andrew: And hi, I'm Andrew, I use he/him pronouns, and I definitely think the Commissioner is doing a great job.
K: Excellent. Thank you both for coming on the show, really appreciate having you here. You two have another show, right?
A: We do! We are the co-hosts of the ARGonauts podcast, which is an ARG (alternate reality game) deep-dive history podcast from the Orange Groves Network.
M: And also we sponsored blaseball last season.
K: [Excited] Oh, no way! Congratulations!
A: If you have feelings about the results of Champs in the Making, you can blame us. [All laugh.]
K: So, if you two know a lot about ARGs and Orange Groves sponsored blaseball last time, I have a big question for you: you see, I think I might have stumbled on to something—blaseball—which might be an ARG, possibly? I've just kind of seen that terminology floating around, but I don't know what it is, and I don't know if I'm playing one, and I'm kind of wondering: am I? So could you tell me: what is an ARG, is blaseball one, what have I gotten myself into?
A: Luckily, those are three very easy questions to answer. [Laughs.]
K: Oh, good.
A: The answer to the first question, what is an ARG?: an ARG is an alternate reality game, which is a game that is played primarily online that is kind of like an online escape room or scavenger hunt with a splash of tabletop role playing games mixed in to that. They're kind of like a puzzle hunt where you will work with a group of people to solve puzzles. A lot of times they involve things like cryptography and encryption and codes, as well as things like riddles or just other kinds of puzzles you can work together with a group to solve, posted online, and these all come together in service of a plot, in the same way that, if you're playing Powered by the Apocalypse, you're working together with a group of people who are all playing different roles and kind of pretending that, like, we know that we're not actually living in the apocalypse. We're gonna pretend and do that role play here. Now we're doing it online with puzzles and with a big group of people working together to solve clues and further stories and do all sorts of cool things.
K: Okay, cool, so it's like a big collaborative puzzle game with a lot of narrative elements to it, lots of story and world?
M: Yeah. I like to sometimes describe it on ARGonauts as like a murder mystery dinner party [Andrew laughs], but none of the actors are allowed to, like, touch you [laughter builds] or interact with you in any way.
K: Okay, so that sounds like it's— it sounds like blaseball has some of those elements. Do you think blaseball is an ARG? Marn, what do you think?
M: I think that—and I am on record saying this on ARGonauts—I don't think that blaseball is an ARG. I think that blaseball has elements of an ARG, like I think that there are definitely things that the community can solve and work towards solving, but I don't necessarily think that I would call it an ARG.
K: Oh, are you saying that ARGs typically have endings of some sort or like a goal that you're trying to reach, an overall objective?
M: Yeah, typically in ARGs, you solve puzzles to progress the plot in kind of, like, a logical way—
K: Ah. [Laughter.]
M: —I would say, so blaseball definitely has some of that, but I think that the community that has built up around blaseball is not very much the same as, like, a community that would build up around an ARG—
M: —and I also think that blaseball has a lot of, like emergent narrative elements that ARGs don't. Like, usually, developers of ARGs go into it with a very solid idea of, like, okay, we want these plot beats, and these are the characters, and here's what we know about the characters, and blaseball is really different because the devs didn’t really go into blaseball, I think, with an idea that the players were going to end up being, like, well-loved characters. They were just, like, “oh, haha, Jessica Telephone, funny name,” and then the fans got really attached [Andrew chuckles], and they were, like, “Oh, Jessica Telephone is, like, one of the protagonists of blaseball—”
M: “—and, like, she has a bat that is shaped like a telephone,” and they kind of got themselves attached to these characters by building up the plot around them.
A: There's a lot of stuff that would typically be done on a game master end of an ARG that’s being done on the players’ end of blaseball, which is really interesting but makes it hard to, like, contrast the two. [Laughs.]
K: Oh. Like what? Andrew, what are the players doing that would normally be done on the game master’s end of an ARG?
A: Sure. So, the fans of the site are the ones that are kind of building the fan lore and the stuff around the characters, but that stuff isn't really being done on the end of the Game Band. Um, that stuff is kinda almost— not separate, because they're interacting back with the lore the players create a little bit, but, at the same time, um, it's not like the game devs present a puzzle, and then the players are able to work on that puzzle and get it figured out and then move forward to the next piece as those puzzles are resolved. These are more— they're giving out mysteries and asking questions, and they'll give us a mystery like, “Hey! Jaylen Hotdogfingers is back, and she started making people unstable.” We don't really know what that means. We don't find out what that means until something happens within the game itself to reveal it.
A: Players affect things through voting on decrees and on blessings and stuff like that and now the Hall of Flame, which, we don't know what it does. These things don't have a direct plot line, necessarily, that players are working to unravel and solve, as much as it is: strange things are being asked in general, and then eventually the game itself will answer them, but without much interaction on the players’ half to roll that plot forward.
K: Yeah, it does feel an awful lot like a tabletop campaign where the fans are also making all of the NPCs and the villains. Before we cut to the break, I want to ask you two one more question: how did you discover blaseball, each of you? Maybe Andrew can take this one first.
A: It's so long ago now. Who knows anymore?
K: It feels like years! Seasons, even! [All giggle.]
A: I couldn't tell you what my first exposure to blaseball was, but I know that the spot that I really thought, “Okay, this sounds interesting,” is when they talked about it on a podcast called Waypoint Radio, which is a video games podcast. And, as they were talking about it, I thought, “Okay, this is interesting,” and I got involved. I became a Crabs fan because crabs are my favorite animal, and I just like little snippy little guys, so I was, like, “Great, Crabs, let's do this.” And then I learned that there was a team called the Garages where the fans of them had decided that they were all in a band together, and I thought, “That's a neat bit of lore,” and then the fans said, “Great, here's their album.” [Laughter.] That energy is what’s kept me in through the game as the game has gone on.
K: Absolutely, yeah. What about you, Marn?
M: I got into blaseball because one of the other hosts on the Orange Groves was doing Twitch streams where they were basically sportcasting some of the games, and I was, like, “Oh, okay, I like regular baseball, so this is a nice thing for me to, like, have on my other screen while I work to listen to in the background,” and then I was, like, “Oh, no, I'm getting invested in this. Oh, no.”
K: Oh, no!
M: “There’s a Baltimore team, and Baltimore is where I live, and I like the Baltimore sports teams, and then I joined the Crabs, and I met a bunch of cool people who also live in Baltimore, and I was, like, “Oh, okay, I’m in this now.” [Laughter.
K: Nice, nice. Well, thanks for your stories and for all of your fascinating input on what kind of game blaseball is. This is super cool. Speaking of music, we are about to cut to a song, not from the Garages, from a different team: from the Flowers this time.
K: So stay tuned.
K: Yeah! I’m a Flowers fan. We have music, too. Anyway, stay tuned. We'll be right back.
Hey there, listeners! Today's song is for all the Boston Flowers fans out there. Woo! Let’s grow! This song is about beloved Flowers batter Jacob “Just A Guy” Haynes. Haynes is best known for being “that guy who plays blaseball for the Boston Flowers.” We Flowers fans love him, and we think you will too. So now, please enjoy arthur x medic’s tribute to our guy, Jacob Haynes.
[Music: “Just a Guy” by arthur x medic]
K: That was “Just a Guy” by arthur x medic. Check out their other music on soundcloud.com/arthurxmedic. That’s soundcloud.com/arthurxmedic. You can also find their music on Spotify. And now, back to Take Me Out To The Blall Game.
Hello, listeners! We are back. You're listening to Take Me Out To The Blall Game. I'm here with Andrew and Marn, the co-hosts of ARGonauts podcast, a podcast all about alternate reality games. Today we're talking about blaseball, whether it is an alternate reality game or ARG, or whether it's some other kind of game. If you want more of that, listen to the first half of the episode because right now we're gonna talk about: if you like blaseball, what are some other games you might like? So, Andrew and Marn, since you know so many different games [Andrew and Marn chuckle], can you recommend to our listeners some other things that they should check out?
M: Yeah, so I have a recommendation for an ARG that we have covered on the podcast, which is the Frog Fractions 2 ARG, which, I feel like a lot of people who enjoy blaseball would really vibe with it. Frog Fractions is basically a flash game, and I think it's now on Steam, and you can get it for free, where you play as a frog doing fractions, and then the game slowly becomes more and more complicated, and it kind of, like, spirals out into something that is vastly different from what it started as.
M: And it got very popular on the Internet, as just, like, a free flash game, and the dev did a Kickstarter for Frog Fractions 2. But the premise of the Kickstarter was: I am making this game. I am not going to tell anyone when it is released. I am not going to tell anyone what name it has been released under. [Kimberly laughs.] You have to find Frog Fractions 2.
K: Wow. Can I still go in and do that part of the puzzle, or is that just, like, something I can read about?
M: If you Google Frog Fractions 2 I almost guarantee you it will spoil it for you immediately. [Andrew laughs.]
K: Okay, okay, so don't Google Frog Fractions 2. What do I look up in order to start this quest?
M: So we did a two-parter on it on ARGonauts. I also think the Game Detectives Wiki has, like, the most comprehensive write-up that you will be able to find.
A: They started the game with a Kickstarter, so if you Google the Kickstarter for Frog Fractions 2, you'll probably find that page and be able to see the video that kicked the whole thing off.
A: Get a taste for the weirdness that ARGs typically start with.
M: My other recommendation is a Discord bot game called SmileBot that I can't say a lot about without spoiling it, but it is a bot that counts the emoji usage in a Discord channel and may or may not turn into a resource management game. [Andrew laughs.]
K: Okay, okay, what is it— can you say what is it about the game that makes you think blaseball fans would like it?
M: You do end up kind of gambling emojis and stuff, so if you enjoy that aspect of blaseball, you will enjoy it, and also, like, if you just generally enjoy the way that blaseball is written with all of the kind of weird nonsensical stuff, you'll enjoy it.
K: Excellent, excellent. All right, cool, cool, cool. Thank you, Marn. Andrew, what about you? You got some recommendations?
A: Sure! One thing that I would recommend— part of the problems with ARGs are that they are such an ephemeral Internet thing that it kind of feels like, in order to be in an ARG, you have to, like, find it at the right time—
A: —so talking about past ARGs is a little tough. That's one of the reasons we started our show was to give, like, a historical overview. So if you want the stories that come out of ARGs, one that I'd recommend that we did an episode on is called The Spectacular Organic Corporation, which is kind of similar to blaseball in that, on its surface, it seems to be about something pretty simple, which is a juice company, and, as you look more and more into it, you may learn that it might in fact be about trying to achieve immortality through drinking in juice that is so organic and good that it might make you ascend to godhood?
K: Hmm! [Marn laughs.]
A: You know, you ever had a V8 that you're just, like, “ooh, boy.” [Laughter.] But if you're looking for a game that is currently ongoing and will be by the time this comes out, I know that there's a game running in a podcast feed called Imaginary Advice, which is a very good podcast overall, but they are currently running a four-part series called The Golden House that might have something more going on under the covers.
K: Okay, ooh, timely content! Excellent. Today is a September 21st 2020 in Earth time, by the way. [Andrew and Marn laugh.] So, if you're listening to this later, then judge whether you think it's still going on by that. All right. Very cool. Thank you for your recommendations. We're almost out of time, so I have one last question for both of you before we go: what are you love about blaseball because, as you know, we are all love blaseball?
M: I mean, let's go Crabs baby love da Crabs! [Laughter.]
A: I love the emergent narrative that comes out of blaseball. I love the way that stories are made on the field. I'm not a big lore and wikis kind of person, but I do love the story that has emerged about Jaylen Hotdogfingers, of the first player being incinerated and then the fans in the end realizing they could bring her back, and then they do, and she comes back kind of wrong and just cuts a bloody path through the league. It's wild. It's fascinating. I love it so much.
M: It's so good!
A: And there are so many good songs about it, too, so you can't go wrong. [Laughs.]
K: And what about you, Marn? What do you love about blaseball?
M: So, as a horror writer, I appreciate how blaseball handles its horror elements. It's really effective to me. I'm glad that the Game Band finally came out and said, “yes, blaseball’s a horror game” because it's really interesting to me how, like, random number generators in the system and, like, just kind of elements that the devs have put here and there do such an excellent job of managing and maintaining that tension and, like, easing off of it. Like, the first Monday of last week when it was, like, Jaylen’s first day on the field, and she hit a bunch of people with pitches, and we didn't know what unstable did, and it was like that the whole day because nothing happened, and we were, like, “Okay, maybe it's not that bad,” and then Tuesday evening I literally took an hour-long nap and woke up and people were, like, “Everyone is dead!” [Laughter.]
K: Oh. Yeah, yeah, all right, well, thank you both so much. We're out of time for today, so we're going to close it up. Marn and Andrew, where can our listeners find you?
A: You can find us on Twitter. We're together @ARGonautsPod; that's our show's Twitter account. Then you can find us individually: I'm on Twitter @CohostSherms—
M: —and I am on Twitter @corpserevivers—
A: —and you can find us and a bunch of other really great shows on the network at the Orange Groves Network, which you can find at the website theorangegroves.com.
K: All right, thank you both so much for joining us. Listeners, remember to follow us on Twitter, Take Me Out To The Blall Game, we are @blaseball_pod and send us your blaseball questions, opinions, and soulscreams. Remember, you can shout out one of your friends with a soulscream if you want to. We love to also hear your reactions to the latest blaseball events and suggestions for topics that we should cover. We especially love to get recordings of your voices because this is, indeed, a podcast. Please email them to us at firstname.lastname@example.org. I am Kimberly Dauber, this is been Take Me Out To The Blall Game, and thank you for participating in the cultural event of blaseball.
Sign up to receive email updates
Enter your name and email address below and I'll send you periodic updates about the podcast.
Transcribed by Nat.