Friday Feature: Twitch Plays Pokemon

The Internet is a weird place.

Sometimes, those oddities give birth to something that is nothing short of amazing.

I give you, Twitch Plays Pokemon.

For the uninformed; Pokemon is a game for Nintendo’s handhelds that involves a character traversing environments, catching creatures, and battling them against other trainers to gain badges. It’s a classic role playing game in every sense of the word. It’s actually not that hard when playing on your own; but when it’s over 20,000 people, that’s a different story. But we’ll get to that.

Twitch (or Twitch.tv) is a video streaming website where game players can go and stream their gameplay live. It’s amassed millions of viewers and much like Youtube, has it’s own batch of celebrities and high profile streamers that people will tune in and watch. You can find just about any game being played and watch for hours; while chatting with others enjoying it at the same time.

Which brings us to Twitch Plays Pokemon.

What at first glance seems to be one of the worst games of Pokemon being played ever, is actually one of the greatest social experiments of our age being played out on the internet. Unlike every other stream out there, it’s not just one person playing the game. It’s actually everyone in chat who has control over what the character does.

Instead of talking about the game being played, the entire chat window is filled with, “up, down, a, b,” etc., as all the viewers try to push the character through the game. As I said earlier, this would be no big deal if it were one person playing the game. Yet, in this case there are thousands now, and some of those people have other goals in mind.

Yes, there are thousands of players trying to play the game properly, but for every one of them there is another who is trying to keep them from progressing. Thus, the game becomes one of the most infuriating things to watch on the internet. The character spins around, goes back and forth, lets go of important items, releases pokemon, and so much more to its detriment because of these players. Yet, it is this back and forth that makes this game so interesting to watch.

Despite the back and forth, Twitch Plays Pokemon is halfway through the game. It’s an incredible accomplishment considering how the game itself is being played. Yet, this is not the most interesting story to come out this. That honor goes to the overarching meta-narrative that the players themselves are creating.

Because there are so many people playing, the character does things which he wouldn’t normally do and the community has taken upon itself to explain these things in some of the most hilarious ways. Certain items have become divine relics, mantras have been created, and when a pokemon is released a different pokemon is then blamed for the action. Just go through the Reddit page for that stream and you’ll see just what I am talking about here.

Twitch Plays Pokemon is the internet in a nutshell. There are those who wish to use it for good, and there are others who want (as Alfred put it), “to just see the world burn.” You should definitely give it a watch, if only for a couple of minutes. It has the uncanny ability to make you laugh and scream all at the same time….Seriously. I mean, 22.3 million viewers can’t be wrong?

You can watch it HERE

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