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Twitch Plays Pokémon – and it is simply beautiful

“Man. This isn’t a thousand monkeys at a thousand typewriters. It’s twenty thousand monkeys at a single typewriter, and half those monkeys are screaming and desperately trying to progress while the other half throw shit everywhere. It’s wonderful.”

Five days ago, something remarkable happened to the internets. Some dude over in Australia thought it would be a smashing idea to put up a stream of the original Pokémon Red Gameboy game on Twitch.tv, enabling an unlimited amount of people to control the avatar by inputting the commands into the chat.

What has resulted has been one of the most satisfying yet unbelievably frustrating streams that I have ever been addicted to watched. 75k current viewers find it more addictive than Sochi, and that number is only growing.

Allow me to set the scene for you – actually you could just skip ahead and go check out the stream for yourself by clicking here, but if you fancy having the ever-loving shit set out of your scene for you, read on: there are but eight commands on an old-school Gameboy Colour, and we’ve currently got 75,000 people pressing them all at once. The aim is to complete the goddamn game – does it even sound possible to you?

We are closing in on day five of the stream at time of writing, and #twitchplayspokemon has already won four gym badges, caught twelve pokémon and overcome a shit-ton of obstacles along the way.

How on earth did they manage it? And, perhaps more importantly, why are they trying? I’ll tell you why: the beauty of the internet. For some reason, 75k+ people have decided that this utter folly is a worthwhile endeavor and have so far spent 5 whole days attempting to progress, not only attempting to co-ordinate a concert hall worth of players, but circumnavigating the fucking internet trolls who try to stand in their way. Case in point: it took the team about 12 hours to get through the (seemingly) pretty short and straightforward Route 9 because of this very reason.

Other legendary challenges faced so far have been tasks such as learning the move ‘Cut’, subsequently cutting down trees, and forging the way through Rock Tunnel in the pitch black. Currently the team is trying to make their way through the Team Rocket hideout in Celadon City, and anyone who remembers that part of the game will know of what horrors I speak: the moving panels of destruction.

It sounds utterly boring and pointless – why watch a half-crazed avatar wandering around aimlessly for hours and hours and hours? Well, aside from the initial hilariousness before the slow-dawning realization that you can’t stop watching despite yourself, it’s a bloody good feeling to be watching the stream when the team accomplishes something they’ve been trying to do for twelve hours. It’s a gamble, as no one can be on the stream full-time and have to check in here and there, but if you’re actually there for “a moment”, it almost feels like you are present for the second-coming of Christ. Alternatively, if you are there to witness the team doing something monumentally stupid like, ooh say RELEASING THE FAVOURITE POKEMON, you actually find yourself screaming at your screen. And then wondering what has become of your life.

RIP “Abby” and “Jay Leno” – #NeverForget

But the best thing about Twitch Plays Pokémon, as with most things on the old interwebs, is the community. Not only is it admirable that so many people try to co-ordinate strategies over multiple social media networks, but the five-day-old fandom is brilliant.

Hilarity has ensued, all because of the beautiful internet doing its thing. 75k people playing a game of pokémon has transmuted into a PokéMyth, a journey of epic proportions. For you newbies, let me recount the legend:

Due to our hero RoboRed’s erratic (to say the least) controls, it was very easy for him to accidentally throw away some of his collected items. Only certain key items were unable to be tossed, but that didn’t mean he couldn’t try. Repeatedly. This meant that he was continuously selecting the Helix Fossil and the S. S. Anne Ticket, which the team interpreted at RoboRed “consulting” these items for their “wisdom”. The fandom deified these entities, with the players splitting their allegiance between the Holy Helix Fossil of Antioch and the S. S. Anne Ticket (*cough cough* false prophet *ahem*). There are also those who swear fealty to the Holy Trinity (the S.S. Anne Ticket, the Nugget and the Moon Stone), but we do not speak of them. For a while the two separate religions seemed to work in harmony, allowing the team to defeat Lt. Surge and obtain the third badge with relative ease. But then…we were tested.

descriptionOur first nemesis was the tree. It could not be passed without learning the fated HM01 – Cut. This was a trial we were not wholly prepared for, but at last our hero prevailed. But our elation was short-lived as we had to pass the wretched Route 9, a road filled with many, many trolls that took twelve hours to vanquish before taking refuge at our checkpoint. Our respective deities brought forth the Dark Ages in Rock Tunnel which also took us an age to pass, making it more and more difficult while one of our number, Rattata, betrayed us by continuously using the move ‘Dig’ to take us back to the start. After praying to our Gods, we managed to deposit said Rattata into the PC without further incident and made our way through Rock Tunnel to Lavender Town and then Cerulean City. Things were going our way.

descriptionOur faith was to be tested once more with the arrival of #TeamEevee, the fated Horsemen of the Apocalypse. It was the best of times, it was the worst of times. RoboRed had just defeated Erika and earned the fourth badge of destiny, the 40k-strong team behind his success was getting along just famously. The plan was to fill the sixth slot on the team with a Lapras, as a water pokémon is essential in order to complete the game. However #TeamEevee overpowered the wizards of logic and obtained an evil Eevee for the team, filling the final space. Its only use was to evolve into a Vaporeon, so the rest of the team conceded and journeyed to the mythic realm of the Celadon City Department Store in order to purchase a Sacred Water Stone. But the Holy Helix Fossil was not kind to them that day. RoboRed’s money was spent on nothing more than Pokédolls and one simple Fire Stone.

The team attempted to rid themselves of the demon Eevee who had brought nothing but misfortune upon them, but #TeamEevee would not let this happen. In order to prevent their failure, they killed two of our comrades: “ABBBBBBK (” (a Charmeleon nicknamed Abby) and “JLVWNNOOOO” (a Rattata nicknamed Jay Leno). We shall never forget our fallen heroes.

Once the Rattata with ‘Dig’ was fatefully withdrawn from the PC, the heathens #TeamEevee forced our hero to capture an Oddish, filling the last slot on the team and consequently making sure Helix could never emerge from his fossil prison, lest we return to the risky PC of Doom. #TeamEevee then decided the time was right to evolve the demon into his final form, Flareon the Fire Beast. In the final moments of the war, and in one last ditch effort to regain control, the team of righteousness tried to deposit Oddish to make room for the Anti-Eevee, Laparas. But #TeamEevee was too strong and tried to get rid of our Savior based Pidgeot, and the one true God Helix had to sacrifice himself to save Bird Jesus. He remains, perhaps forever, locked in Bill’s PC, having left our hero with nothing put the false prophet S.S. Anne Ticket to guide the way. Which is why RoboRed is currently spinning round in circles in the Team Rocket hideout.

Here endeth the tale. So far…

Who knows how long this crazy gig will last? Will RoboRed ever make it out of Celadon City? Is this the hardest part of his journey? I doubt it, he’s still got the ever-loving Safari Zone to come. I don’t know how he’s going to manage that one! But no matter what, I urge you to come along and support our hero. Get some popcorn, cheer him on, buy the T-shirt, and see if you can help organise an army of pokémon lovers all the way to Victory Road.

This guy. Genius.


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1 Comment

  1. nyika@wanadoo.fr says

    Fascinating, just think this is something I would probably never have known about if not for your blog! It’s another world out there! mom x



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