Twitch Plays Pokemon, often abbreviated to TPP, has been a new, interactive, internet sensation sweeping the world. As most of us now know, TPP is an online game of Pokemon Red, where the Twitch player “Red” is controlled by any command typed into the chat box. With over 19 million people who have participated, multiple impressive coordination networks have developed for players to interact with each other. Some groups are trying to win the game and some are bent on destroying it.
Unfortunately for the serious gamers, Twitch Plays Pokemon has been host to many “trolls,” or online accounts determined to provoke unrest in whatever forum they are participating in. TPP has seen large collections of “trolls” organizing mass movements that go against helping “Red” advance. The problem that has arisen recently, however, is an increased amount of “trolls” that are not human.
“Bots” are spam scripts that allow someone to execute commands without being present at a computer. It is even possible to dictate to the Bots how often they should perform their commands. In Twitch Plays Pokemon, Bots are infiltrating the system to take note of any mass movement in one direction and do the opposite. For example, say everyone commanded Red to move “up”. As soon as the Bot script senses a large enough movement, it sends tons of commands in the opposite direction (in this case, “down”). The proprietor of the website monitoring all of Twitch’s behavior developed a graph depicting the origin of all the commands. Even accounting for “trolls,” there is a significant number of commands that only occur when there is a drastic movement by players, commands against the flow of most other people.
This could severely damage the progress made by “Red” and players all around the world. If the Bots are too effective, then any important advances made in the game could be counteracted, forcing Twitch Plays Pokemon into a standstill. When asked what would be done in response, Twitch officials told Kotaku, “We quickly investigated and identified a number of bot accounts scripted to influence the game. Because bots are not permitted per our terms of service, our team expeditiously banned the bot accounts en masse.”
Despite these measures, some players feel that Bots are still making it through. It may never be possible to cut out all the Bots entirely, but players should pay attention to the chat window and report likely spammers.