Forward Momentum

There are  a lot of lessons that can be learned from the 8 Bit era of video games:

-Vegetables are always good for you (especially mushrooms)

-It’s dangerous to go alone.

-There’s always a proper order in which to tackle things (like robots)

-Looks can be deceiving (or box covers aren’t everything)

Mario 1

but the most important is one simple statement…

Move Forward.

In many of those classic games there was no going back. All your character could do was continue forward. You might have missed a power-up, you might have forgotten to grab a coin, or you may have timed a jump poorly and been de-powered; but none of it mattered. You had to keep moving forward.

In a weird way, that was one of my first life lessons; that regardless of what has happened sometimes all you can do here is

Move Forward.

Mega 1

Those early games taught me that sometimes all you can have is your forward momentum; and sometimes that will have to be enough. Much like the games that we loved, life is full of ups and downs and sometimes it will throw things at us that will try to bring us to a screeching halt. It will put people in our path, some to help and some to hurt. It will throw us into the middle of a storm and not tell us how to swim. It will throw you into a no-win situation and expect you to come out on top.

In the games, it was the past that educated you. You had to learn from your mistakes – and there would be many. You had to remember what had come before, to better understand it in the future. More importantly, you had to understand that you couldn’t dwell on what happened before, because what was after was just around the corner. You couldn’t help but to…

Move Forward.

This is a lesson that I still struggle with today. Things happen and I want to dwell on them. I let them sit and fester inside of me and let life pass me by. I don’t want to move forward, I want to go back to the way things were. I want to correct the mistakes of the past. I want to go back to a time when there was still a chance for something good to happen…but I can’t…and neither can you. All we can do is…

Move Forward.

Link 1

Much like the games, it is healthy to reflect on what has happened before, but only with the knowledge that it’s to help you in what is to come. Dwelling in the past, trying to get back there, does no one any good. The past is there to educate the present and to effect the future. Mario learns the same way we do; through trial and error and continuing on, despite circumstances.

There are things in life that we will miss; relationships that we didn’t take the chance on, job opportunities that we let slip on by, and many others. There are mistakes that we will make; hurting someone close, choosing the wrong side, ignoring the obvious among other things. This is the way of things, one of life’s few constants. Nonetheless, if we are to keep living all we can continue to do is take one step on and

Move Forward.

It is one of life’s hardest lessons, and one that many of us still have a hard time overcoming. It’s a lesson that’s hard to teach, let alone grasp. Yet, the 8bit games that we love gave us a simple visual metaphor for that exact thing. Whether they knew it or not, those creators were teaching us something as kids that would help us for years to come; a lesson we could pass on to everyone who came after.

There will always be days that seem dark. There will always be times when it seems like we can’t move on. Luckily, there was an Italian Plumber who struggled with the same thing, and showed us the answer. We are indebted to the pink bottomless pit that reminded us what matters is the journey forward. It is in the sacrifice of the blue hedgehog that we were able to see that going onward, despite all obstacles is always the greater path.

To no matter what…

…Move Forward

 

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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