Twitch Plays Pokemon – The Tenth Circle of Hell?
Hide your kids. Hide your wife. Sound the alarms. Stay indoors at all costs. It appears the end of civilization as we know it is nigh upon us. Enter Twitch Plays Pokemon, the instrument through which the devil himself is spreading his evil destruction one internet user at a time.
A modern day, real world Ludovico Technique, Twitch Plays Pokemon is a social experiment occurring as we speak where at any given time tens of thousands of people are playing through the same Pokemon Red game via an emulator. At its peak the active viewer count exceeded 100,000 users, and the stream has brought in over 15 million users in its 7 days of existence. Confused yet? Well, you should be.
How it works is that it was programmed through complex scripts to accept inputs of Gameboy buttons (a, b, start, up, down, left, right) from anyone viewing the stream who types one of the aforementioned prompts into the twitch chat. The chosen button is then placed in a queue and executed in the order inputted in the chat by the little 8-bit protagonist of Pokemon Red. I know what you’re thinking…..WTF? My thoughts exactly.
How can any progress be made if tens of thousands of commands are being processed simultaneously, especially in a game like Pokemon where the movements are precise and various obstacles require certain commands that seem impossible to achieve in a ludicrous set up like this. How do they catch pokemon? how do they purchase the pokeballs necessary to catch pokemon? how do they use CUT when necessary? Ahhh forget the meaning of life, where the universe came from. These are the true philosophical questions that need answering. Where’s Professor Oak when you need him?
To combat the seemingly impossible navigation system, twitch has employed a new anarchy vs. democracy system which is explained in the following blurb from Twitch Plays Pokemon’s information section:
Anarchy and Democracy TwitchPlaysPokemon now has two modes, anarchy and democracy. Anarchy mode is the “classic” mode, where everyone’s inputs are applied immediately. Democracy mode is vote-based and has a more sophisticated input system. In order to switch from one mode to the other, the mode that isn’t active needs 75% of votes as Indicated by the dotted line, the current percentage of votes is indicated by the black line. In democracy mode you can compile a sequence of inputs. left2 will move left twice, left2down2 will move left twice and down twice.
Basically, democracy mode is saving America from having to deal with the largest concurrent mass suicide the world has ever seen. It’s making an impossible task manageable, it’s allowing a fraction of light to appear at the end of this hellish tunnel called Twitch Plays Pokemon.
Now at the time this article is being written, Twitch Plays Pokemon is currently in Saffron City, having just beaten Giovanni in the Silph.Co building and after some delay collecting the sliph scope required to enter Lavender Tower. A Google doc with live updates of their badge count, pokemon, and items can be viewed here. Reddit also has a subreddit called r/twitchplayspokemon whose current top post is a live update thread of Twitch Plays Pokemon’s progress. They currently have 13 pokemon and four badges out of eight, so basically they’re about halfway done with the game after an entire week of playing 24/7.