Space Station 13 started out as the creation of a person known by the alias Exadv1, but not much else is known about them. In theory, the game was designed to be role-play heavy wherein an orderly space station would be disturbed by a controlled event, whether it be a traitor on-board the station with an objective or a meteor shower tearing the station apart. In practice, however, the game boils down to barely containable anarchy. Players generally act only out of self-interest, constantly lying through their teeth and waiting for the best opportunity to beat their colleagues to death with a toolbox and then fart in their faces. It runs on the BYOND engine and is notable for its relatively complex systems, such as modeled atmospherics, human and animal genetics, and a "robust" combat system. A free BYOND account and client is required to play.
In early 2009 Space Station 13 started becoming increasingly popular among members (or "goons") of the Something Awful forums, eventually to the point where more talented individuals began modifying the code to refine gameplay or add in their own humorous gimmicks. The visuals were significantly overhauled and now resemble 16-bit era pixel art. Due to the unruly and tongue-in-cheek nature of this new player base, gameplay eventually evolved into a strange parody of itself and players began affectionately referring to their brand of Space Station 13 as "Goonstation." New station jobs being added range from interesting and useful such as a chemistry laboratory and robotics workshop, to humorous and questionable with a job for a clown and a chef who can grind human carcasses up and make food with. The eponymous station is redesigned periodically and the game itself is constantly tweaked to make a more (or sometimes less) accessible experience.
As stated previously, each round of Space Station 13 begins with each player choosing or being assigned a particular job on the station, and is expected to perform their job to the best of their ability in order to keep the place running. However, special events can and will happen that will inevitably completely disrupt order and destroy large portions of the station. Common "game modes" are:
More or less the game mode in Space Station 13, one or more members (usually about three) of the station are defectors to the enemy Syndicate and are given objectives to fulfill while on-board the station. These can range from assassinating crew members, to stealing valuable items and almost always involve escaping the station in one piece, whether or not they need to be alone varies.
A team of Syndicate agents start in a shuttle and have the objective of obtaining a nuclear authorization disk from the station captain, and subsequently detonating a nuclear bomb, eradicating everything in sight. These agents are extremely well-equipped, and a skilled operative can be very dangerous to any station inhabitant.
A group of malcontent station patrons have reached their breaking point and plan a mutiny against the station establishment. They are armed with a device with a bright flash that can brainwash the others to joining their cause, and ultimately must kill all members of the station command staff. Security forces and anyone augmented with a loyalty implant are immune to these flashes and must do everything in their power to ensure hegemony on the station.
Very similar to the traitor game mode, but instead of a common person, a powerful member of the Space Wizard Federation is given one or more objectives throughout their duration of the station. They have many spells at their disposal and can be quite difficult to deal with among the generally uncooperative crew.
Another mode like traitor, except the hot seat is occupied by a changeling, a horrific creature who has the ability to absorb humans and assume the identity of anyone whose DNA they have absorbed. It takes some time for the changeling to absorb a human being, so they generally do their dirty work in the maintenance shafts of the station.