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WMG / Baldi's Basics in Education and Learning

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The school of this game is actually a normal school as seen through the eyes of a young child, possibly one with a disability of some kind.
A kid who doesn't do well in school simply because he or she doesn't understand it. They don't understand why they're being asked to do these math problems, or why their teacher gets mad at them for doing it wrong. They could be trapped in the school by Baldi, however.
  • This theory video uses this idea, attributing the weird things that happen in the game to a disorder called childhood schizophrenia, claiming that the child we play as is simply seeing their school through a lens influenced by actual Edutainment Games they've played.
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  • The protagonist might have dyscalculia. This would explain why they see the math problems as a bunch of tangled up numbers, which is similar to how a lot of people with dyscalculia describe it.

The game takes place in a Witch's Labyrinth.
And the character you control is a magical girl.

The game is a satire on not only educational games but also horror games with a lot of lore.
The game is faking a facade that there is something deeper to it besides it horror elements, but it's all just Red Herring after Red Herring. It even jokes about it with a chalkboard that says "Place lore here."

Alternatively, the game is a satire of the education industry.
Perhaps it's best not to go too into detail on this, but it's possible.

Baldi is the modern version of The Schoolmaster
All this time he's been trying to flay you into shape.

Baldi's Basics is about a scared child running from a physically abusive teacher.
Similar to the first entry, the game is a real experience through the eyes of a child. The child goes to school and is taught by Professor Baldimore, nicknamed Baldi by the kids. Baldi is really kind and friendly at first, but when the child is repeatedly unable to answer simple math (the problems looking like gibberish to him), he begins to show an abusive side. And the child runs away when Baldi threatens physical force. The other characters are twisted versions of people from the school. The principal is, of course, the real principal, who the child sees as a shouting, angry faced man roaming around looking for him. Playtime is a blind girl who keeps stopping him to help her, unknowingly bring doom closer. Gotta Sweep is a large janitor that unnerves everyone, causing them to move away when he wants to sweep. Arts and Crafters is a hall monitor, at first not concerned about the child, but chases them on Baldi's command when they try to leave. And 1st Prize is a special needs child in a wheelchair, forcing people aside as he rolls through the halls.

Arts and Crafters was a previous victim of Baldi's.
As Filename_2 tells us in the secret ending, Baldi's Basics is a cursed game In-Universe. Arts and Crafters was once one of the unlucky people who decided to play Baldi's Basics. He died to Baldi and became another NPC to roam the schoolhouse, albeit with a fraction of his humanity left. He realises that the 7 Notebooks are his only way out of the game, which is why he attacks you once you have all 7 notebooks. However, the game's coding doesn't let him get the notebooks, and so he ends up teleporting you instead.

By that virtue, all of the NPCs were victims of Baldi.
But Arts and Crafters is one of the few who has any trace of sanity left (other possible candidates being Principal of The Thing and most definitely Filename_2). Others, such as Playtime and Gotta Sweep, are presumably far gone, with the AI completely overwriting their original personalities. ( Justified,
as who could actually bear to be stuck in an MS Paint girl or a talking broom? ) And you know how the recent update added 1st Prize as a new character? Maybe that's because another person was captured by Baldi at that time...

Alternatively, the Principal of the Thing and Filename2 are the only humans trapped in the game
That's why they're the only characters who appear to be photographs of real people, though large chunks of Filename2's body have been erased thanks to his corruption, and the Principal's legs are partially erased in a similar manner. Everyone else are actual NPCs that may or may not have sentient Artificial Intelligence, with Baldi possibly being more self-aware than the others. The Principal of the Thing could even be the In-Universe creator of the game, hence his position as the school's principal.

However, Baldi may not necessarily be the one who trapped them in the game. Instead, the Principal could've been obsessed with his own creation and intentionally trapped himself in it, dragging Filename2 along for unclear reasons.

Baldi is in fact the creator of the game.
He sucked himself into the game, and he has some coworker who distributed the game for him to capture unlucky people for some evil plan. Whether that is a fictional Mystman12 or some other random dude is anyone's guess.

Baldi created this place because he wanted to be famous and beloved as a Cool Teacher, Edutainment Game mascot, or both. The other NPCs were also created (or brought in from somewhere else) by Baldi to fill the roles that his vision of a perfect school would contain. That's why it's called "Baldi's Schoolhouse" despite him seemingly being just a teacher working there. Maybe he also wrote the posters describing each character, which would probably explain why his own poster praises him so much. It's worth noting that, if he did write the posters, there's a bit of Hypocritical Humor here - Baldi will hunt you down if you get a single math problem wrong, but his own grammar and spelling need some work.

The Principal's surname is "of the Thing".
Prove me wrong.

Baldi gets angry about wrong answers because his job is threatened by them
We've seen how strict Principal of the Thing is to his students. It's possible he is just as strict as an employer, and will fire Baldi if even one student gets an answer wrong. Baldi could still be out to give impossible answers just to screw with player however.

When Baldi catches the player...
The player is Impaled with Extreme Prejudice by the ruler.

Filename2 was corrupted by Principal of the Thing for disobeying the "No fourth wall breaks" rule.

Filename2 corrupted Baldi in the secret ending, turning him into that stretchy Baldi you see.

Playtime and Filename2 are related
Hence their similar color schemes: dark hair, red shirt, blue jeans.

  • Maybe after you get all wrong answers and escape, the game is not coded In-Universe to expect you to survive. The code trapping Playtime as well, Playtime has a logic error along with much of the other code due to the game breaking and Filename2, the true form of Playtime, manages to escape with the other people trapped as NPCs (albeit in imperfect condition due to being pretty much a coding error still in the game) and corrupt his captor. After the game crashes the NPCs are finally out of the game to live their real lives and Baldi is destroyed. That is what I call a happy ending.
    • OP here, I was thinking maybe Playtime and Filename2 are related as in they're family members (i.e. Playtime could be Filename2's daughter), and their similar outfits are meant to be Coordinated Clothes.

1st Prize was created by the Protagonist
That's why it only follows us around even though there are plenty of other people that it can hug.

Gotta Sweep is possessed by the ghost of the old janitor.
The old janitor tried to escape and tell the police about Baldi's secret plan to kill every student who is unlucky enough to join the schoolhouse. Baldi killed him in an attempt to keep his secret plan, well, secret, and his ghost somehow ended up in his broom, aka Gotta Sweep.

Filename1 IS someone trapped in the game, unlike he implies
Keep in mind he states that some things he says are censored, and he can't say some phrases, which leads us to believe he really IS trapped inside the game since he might just be using reverse phycology on the auto-censor in the game.

Playtime is the Principle of The Thing's daughter
Which explains not only why he'll punish you for cutting her jumprope, but why such a young kid is in the same school as the protagonist.

May also explain why Playtime can run around the school playing in the hallways with her jump rope without receiving instant detention.

Baldi has a form of Aphasia that prevents him from properly expressing all but the most basic equations.
He doesn't want people to know, so he tries to kill the player character when they find out. He works as a teacher despite having this problem and trying to keep it secret because he is not very bright.

Filename2 is the "Doug" referenced on one of the chalkboards.
"Doug, dab again tomorrow and pay." Filename2 is seen T-posing, so maybe he likes dabbing too.

"PlaceFace" is actually the protagonist.
The face, which was previously only a Dummied Out model found in the files, actually makes a proper appearance in the Camping demo. If you go out of bounds and look at the schoolhouse from a certain angle, you'll see the face trapped inside the schoolhouse, with "NO" signs next to it. What if this is meant to symbolize how Baldi has the protagonist trapped, in that they have to go along with him whatever he does (like camping.) The "NO" seems to indicate that Baldi (or the school in general) has some sort of vendetta for this kid. Considering that PlaceFace is often compared to It's a Bully, maybe It's a Bully is some sort of Evil Twin to the protagonist, created by Baldi or someone else to rub it in the protagonist's face that they're (supposedly) a bad person?

Alternatively, PlaceFace is the player's friend mentioned in the game's Excuse Plot.
And he and It's a Bully are one in the same, as he was Reforged into a Minion.

Baldi actually has a Jekyll & Hyde problem.
Baldi actually truly means well and wanted to just help the player. He was about to just simply help teach the player to correct their mistake, but his alternate personality just so happened to take over him when the player got a question wrong.

Baldi is actually a rogue AI.
He was created to be a digital teacher as a new way of teaching children. But for whatever reason, his programmer never instructed him on what to do if a player got a question wrong, so Baldi decided that the best solution is to eliminate them.
  • Considering that some of Baldi's math problems are all messed up, maybe he was already faulty, and that's why his programming was never completed.
  • If this is true, maybe Baldi is actually an acronym? Basic Assistance in Learning and Digital Instructor?