Twitch Plays Pokemon

Twitch plays Pokemon is a currently ongoing experiment in cooperative video gaming that is taking place on (see references for a link). The game consists of the playing on an emulated version of the classic Pokemon Red video game for the original Gameboy, only instead of a single person playing the game at a time, the game is being played by as many people as wish to play it. To date, the game has had over 7 million page views and over 70 thousand concurrent viewers, any of whom may give commands to Red, the in game character by typing these commands into their chat box on screen. Commands that Red follows are based on those which appear first in line when he is able to follow a command (ie. not while completing another action), meaning that if twenty players all type “A” at once, but one player presses “Start”, there is still a chance that the Start command will win out even though a minority of peole wanted to press this button. As you might expect, this has resulted in a large amount of trolling that has greatly impaired progress within the game from taking place.

cdn.bulbagarden.net_upload_thumb_c_ca_red_en_boxart.jpg_250px-red_en_boxart.jpg To date, the game has been going on for over five days straight, and in that time the collective player Red has made progress and has defeated several gyms and infiltrated Team Rocket's headquarters. Along the way, he has fought hard to overcome the voices in his head. The voices keep shouting “A B A B B B Start A Down Left B Up B B”, and amid the cacophonous noise Red can only try his best to take a step in the right direction. Uncertain of his place in the world, Red has taken solace by finding comfort in a helix fossil of an ancient Kabuto, which he consults whenever he is unsure of what to do next. Unfortunately, the only advice that the fossil ever yields is that this is not the time to use the fossil. But Red is sure that someday the time to use the fossil will arrive, and that then and only then the voices may finally leave him be. Likewise, he has taken a liking to a particular moonstone and his ticket on the luxury Cruise Liner the S S Anne.

By sheer force of will and many hours of advanced concentration, Red has managed to navigate several obstacles that might have stopped a lesser collective amalgam of electronic trolls dead in their tracks. The journey has not, however, been without tragedy. In a moment on momentary madness (or perhaps, lucidity?) Red released two of his beloved Pokemon, a Rattata and a Charmeleon, into the wild never to be seen again. A young Eevee also managed to evolve itself into a Flareon without Red's consent. Fortunately, Red is sure to save his progress every few seconds to make sure that nothing could possibly go wrong, aside from the many many things that do.

Twitch plays Pokemon is an experiment that will likely prove to be indefinite at the current rate. The player character Red is currently stuck in a maze that requires careful movement to avoid stepping on a tile that would send him all the way back to the beginning at any moment. This requirement for fancy footwork is Red's kryptonite, and he has been stuck in this location for the past many hours as a result. Any signs of progress are currently doubtful, as a few trolls are able to get in just enough commands to send Red all the way back to the start of the maze. Some players keep insisting that the collective conciousness of Red pause and formulate a plan of action, but in reality maybe these players have not properly grasped the scope of the potential of Red or of the entire Twitch Plays Pokemon experiment.

Gaming has often been views as an insular and isolating activity partaken by lonely men (and women) when they don't have better things to do or friends to hang out with. Twitch Plays Pokemon aims to turn the lonely activity of gaming into something more collaborative. Of course online games have existed for a long time, and this allows many players to play the same game together, but this does not fulfill the capacity of people to all play the exact same copy of the same game at once. Is this a feature that people have wanted in the past? Probably not. Is it a reasonable way to actually play through a game as a serious venture? Absolutely not, at least not until a system is implemented whereby majority vote determines the selected key. But is it fun? Definitely, Twitch Plays Pokemon is proving to be hilarious, and watching inside jokes organically develop and expand with time is worth watching hours upon end of trolls sabotaging the better efforts of the informed and well meaning majority.

February 18th Updates

In a radical shift in how the game is played, a voting system was implemented to aid in the efforts of players to get through particularly tricky parts of the game - most notably, the maze in which Red had been stuck for the better part of a day. The way the voting system works is that players can now type in either “democracy” or “anarchy” in addition to the commands that they normally type in. If enough players type in democracy“ then the vote meter crosses a threshold that triggers a democratic approach to determining Red's actions, wherein every 20 seconds the most common command is chosen and implemented. The intended effect of this is to allow players to better move through complex areas, however in practice many players do not care for the system, and hence they still vote for the wrong action thus undermining the progress made by the democratic system. Enough votes for anarchy trigger a shift back to the original free for all that has so come to define this nearly week long quest.

Notable events today include the release of Flareon - dubbed the false prophet -into the wild never to be seen again. In addition, using the new voting system Red was able to navigate the maze of Team Rocket HQ, allowing him to come face to face with the boss of the place, Giovanni. In an epic confrontation, both players came down to having just one pokemon left - Kanghaskan vs. Pidgeot. As the two pokemon duked it out, Kanghaskan fell to within one hit of death, when Pidgeot, with only 1HP remaining itself, chose to use the non damaging Whirlwind attack. Kanghaskan was then able to knock Pidgeot out, sending Red running back to teh nearest Pokemon center. It took nearly another eight hours for Red to make it back to Giovanni, however once there he was finally able to defeat the one day gym leader. After Giovanni surrendered and left, he dropped the Silph scope on the ground right next to Red. Red's impatient diglett, however, chose not to wait, and immediately dug its way out of the facility without picking up the Silph Scope needed to advacne the game's plot. As such, Red will need to embark on yet another quest into Team Rocket HQ in order to obtain his lost scope.

The End - March 1st 2014

On the 17th day of continuous cooperative (if you can in fact call it cooperative, which is somewhat doubtful) play, Red was able to defeat the Elite 4 and his rival Blue to claim his title as the Pokemon champion. Technically, there were still many other things that could have been done in the game before terminating the live play feed - for example, Mewtwo is only available to battle after the defeat of the Elite 4. The twitch community, however, collectively decided that the defeat of the Elite 4 was a difficult milestone and as such it was a fitting place to end the game. The battle with these final 5 trainers took more than 12 hours of continuous attempts in order to succeed, in part because several of their pokemon were underleveled. When they did succeed in winning this grueling competition, it was largely thanks to the massively overpowered Zapdos that had reached level 81 and was able to one hit KO most enemy Pokemon. They had captured this Zapdos via the use of a Master ball, and it has been a cornerstone of their pokemon lineup ever since. Zapdos' efforts, coupled with those of the helix deity incarnate Omastar and the bird jesus Pidgeot, were able to make short work of these trainers (after ~12 previous failed attempts to do just that). At one point, a level 32 venomoth dubbed ATV (all terrain venomoth) was able to finish off a level 62 Dragonite, in a feat that resulted in ATV being dubbed the Dragon Slayer, and making him yet another member of this legendary pokemon team.

What's Next?

The Twitch Plays Pokemon experiment was a massively successful project that ended up accruing over 30 million page views at various times, and over 120,000 simultaneous views during high intensity battles. This success has helped to ensure that this won't be the only twitch gaming experience. Indeed, Twitch has touched many facets of internet popular culture, receiving its own XKCD comic as well as an incredibly vibrant and popular subreddit devoted entirely thereto. In less than 24 hours, on March 2nd, Twitch will embark on its next journey in which it will seek to explore a new region of the world by playing through Pokemon Gold/Silver, allowing users to experience a new lineup of godly pokemon and ensuring many hours more of watching a small child walk repeatedly into a wall. Twitch Plays Pokemon is a profoundly modern experience that combines the collaborative potential of the internet with the inane sense of humor that so many of us have. It brings games that were once a solo experience a unique new dimension, and hence it will likely be a fixture of internet culture for the foreseeable future.



Internet | Role Playing Game

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