As Pokemon Red nears the end of its first entire week streamed live on Twitch, a curious trend emerges. The more ‘players’ Twitch Plays Pokemon attracts, the more numerous its inputs, the more chaotic its outputs, and the more hilarious the whole affair is.
As I write this, 53,406 people are attempting to navigate a boardwalk – ideally without bumping into too many hostile fisherman, but at this point I don’t suspect they’re too fussy so long as they make it across. Meanwhile, they’re alternately shouting the words ‘anarchy’ and ‘democracy’ into Twitch chat.
To date, more than 13,636,000 viewers have either contributed to or impeded the journey to the Elite Four.
Twitch Plays Pokemon is a “social experiment” in which an emulated version of Pokemon Red for Gameboy is controlled from Twitch chat. An IRC bot translates button names into keypresses – and 20 to 40 seconds later, they’re implemented in-game.
Simultaneous viewer numbers have regularly topped 50,000 over the last few days, and last night peaked at above 95,000. What’s more, user numbers on the Twitch Plays Pokemon subreddit yesterday dwarfed its League of Legends equivalent.
The essential experience remains as it was when our Steve reported on Twitch Plays Pokemon yesterday: in which the flailing efforts of thousands are translated into limited and mostly futile movement about Pokemon Red’s grid-based environments – as well as undirected, anal examinations of the game’s inventory and various menus.
The experiment’s anonymous creator has since added a more selective and sophisticated vote-based input system, however In ‘democracy’ mode, sequences of inputs can be compiled by typing, for instance, ‘left2down2’ into chat. But rather than simply implement it, the creator has used the system to make the process even more complicated.
A scale labelled with ‘anarchy’ at one end and ‘democracy’ at the other is now visible on the Twitch stream. ‘Anarchy’ represents the ‘classic’ mode, where any and all inputs are applied immediately.
To switch from one mode to the other, the inactive mode needs a groundswell of 75% votes. Voting is always ongoing, which means the chat bar’s cacophonic pleas of ‘b’ and ‘left’ and now joined by ‘anarchy’ and ‘democracy’. Observe:
Have any of you lot joined in yet? If so, precisely how small do you feel?