Twitch Plays Pokemon is a channel that has been created on the popular video game streaming site Twitch.tv, and as I write this there are currently over 100,000 people playing cooperatively. The massive amount of people in this one stream has moved Pokémon Red/Blue into the top spot on Twitch‘s homepage, surpassing League of Legends, which sits atop the most viewed games almost constantly, with the next closest games typically being several thousands of viewers less.
For more than five days now, tens of thousands of players have been playing Pokémon together by cooperating in Twitch chat. Players can type certain characters or phrases into the stream’s chat which then get turned into game commands, and players have managed to make considerable progress despite the maddening back and forth gameplay that has ensued. It hasn’t all been smooth sailing, however.
Players have spent hours trying to complete mundane tasks like chopping down a tree blocking the path, and have spent nearly entire days stuck in mazes and buildings. Everyone in Twitch chat hasn’t always been on the same page, and the slew of commands being input have made it difficult to progress, but not impossible. Along the way, tasks have been completed and Pokémon battles have been won and lost. In the first four days the game was live, players managed to collect an entire team of Pokémon and had cleared the first four gyms in the game. About that time is when word began to really spread, and soon there were over 70,000 players in Twitch chat hoping to take part and help play Pokémon en masse.
There has been a Twitch PlaysPokémon Reddit Liveblog created to keep up with everything that’s happened so far in the game, and the Twitch Plays Pokémon Google Doc tries to lay out goals for the game as well as track the social experiment’s progress.
Following some of the worst of the indecision and gridlock, the folks behind Twitch Plays Pokémon implemented a democracy mode, giving the system the ability to tally votes from player input in order to determine which action is to be taken. In true democratic form however, players can also vote to go back and forth from democracy mode and anarchy mode, the original game mode which operated on a more first-come first-served basis. Democracy mode seems to have smoothed out the gameplay experience a bit, but there are always many anarchy mode votes being thrown into chat.
The creator of Twitch Plays Pokémon is an Australian programmer who is choosing to stay anonymous right now. He/she spoke to Polygon about the Twitch Plays Pokémon stream, saying:
“I’m going to let it continue to run 24/7, I’d like to see the Elite Four [trainers] beaten but I have my doubts about it being possible without much better coordination.”