Summary: Something between football, basketball, and full-on urban warfare. The Big Game turns Pulse towns into the game fields themselves.

Teams/Players: Ranging from “a few” to “hundreds” to “small armies.” Depending on the match and local involvement, the Big Game can be played by most of the members in two communities, or smaller groups navigating their fellow citizens like terrain…though that’s hardly a BIG game. Innocent bystanders will sometimes help out or thwart players and rarely stay out of the match entirely.

Uniforms/Equipment: Uniforms: Whatever you’re wearing that day, frequently on its third day and covered in mud. Equipment: The old ball and chain.

Rules/Play: “The Big Game” is stolen almost entirely from an old Scottish version of same, “Ba Game.” The basic rules: get the ball in the goal as many times as you can in three days. “Who the players are” and “where the goal or goals are” varies hugely between communities.

In a typical Big Game, two neighboring communities pick two similar landmarks (say, a fountain, or a decorative gateway, or the restroom at a favorite restaurant franchise, or “the town CEO, wherever she is.”) These serve as the goal. To start the game, or any new round of the game, some central area is cleared out of players, the ball—a hefty 30-pound weight hanging on a foot-long length of plasteel—is hung from the highest point or tossed into the water or suchlike, and someone blows a whistle. Mayhem follows.

There are very few rules. Players are identified by a toggle app, which is not the same as “players have a uniform” or “players are carrying their toggle,” but it’s a start. The app pinpoints other players, and can be used to track the ball down to a few blocks, though it updates deliberately slowly and isn’t the best tracker. The two big rules are that the ball cannot be hidden or concealed (it’s safe to carry on a scooter but not in a car, it can’t be stowed in a box or in a house…) and outright murder is illegal. After that, anything goes.

History/Culture: Pulse prides itself on building community and fierce competition, and The Big Game is one way this has consistently manifested over the years. The various wires, supports, ledges, and so on create a fantastic game court/battleground, and give a huge home court advantage to the locals—though in most cases they have to get to their neighbor’s territory to make a goal, so there’s some balance there.

Variations: The Big Game is pretty freeform and has very few actual rules, it’s more of an inevitable manifestation of the concept of Pulse than an organized activity. But regional variations are frequent. How the team is broken up…corporate subdivisions, males vs. females, off-contract vs. corporate, single vs. taken (with some special rules to help cut back on “singles” by next year.) In some areas it’s only played outdoors in public areas, but that never seems to stick. Some communities play it once every three years, or on the first day of Spring, or during the three days of the biggest shopping season of the year. In some areas entire towns are swept away by The Big Game, in other areas two sides of the neighborhood play to drop the ball in their local swimming pool, and in some it’s only played by a double-handful of 20somethings who rediscover The Big Game every four or five years. Where it’s not played regularly, there’s almost always some bickering over the rules, but the fundamentals don’t change much. Heavy ball. Crowds. Broken bones.