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It started as an experiment, but more than two weeks later, Twitch Plays Pokémon beat the game.
More than 16 days ago, a new livestreaming channel called Twitch Plays Pokémon started broadcasting on the video site. It enables thousands of gamers to control a single instance of the 1996 Nintendo classic Pokémon Red by entering text commands into the chat. Typing “up” or “start” will cause the character to move left or bring up the start menu, respectively. Early this morning more than 100,000 viewers were watching the game, and many of those are entering commands into the chat. This is the latest example of how Twitch is establishing itself as a central platform for gaming culture.
After around 400 hours of play, the collective beat Pokémon Red at approximately 1 a.m. Pacific time.
Watch the final battle below:
The road to this point was long and winding, and the anonymous programmer that created Twitch Plays Pokémon didn’t really think it would every really come when it began.
“I have my doubts,” the developer told GamesBeat on Valentine’s Day. “The Safari Zone requires fairly precise movement to complete. I’d like to not interfere at all but I might have to make an exception for the Safari Zone.”
The Safari Zone and other areas were difficult, but the creator of Twitch Plays Pokémon didn’t have to interfere. Instead, he introduced the concept of democracy versus anarchy. A few days into the stream, players could start voting for democracy or anarchy by typing it in the chat. If democracy had more than 80 percent of the support, the game would take a poll every 20 seconds for what it should do for its next move.
The collective only entered democracy mode a few times. Instead, anarchy — given enough time — was able to beat nearly the entirety of Pokémon.
Of course, Twitch Plays Pokémon is more interesting than a group of gamers working together to accomplish something. They’ve also created their own religions with gods, prophets, and false prophets based on in-game characters. The crowd favorite pocket monster Omastar is a faux-deity that represents anarchy, and the Pidgeot that the collective captured near the beginning of the game is known as “Bird Jesus.”
It’s a silly oral history, but a natural one that has grown from a mutual love for a game and a shared experience.
Twitch Plays Pokémon has also inspired a number of other communal-gaming experiments on Twitch. We’ve detailed many of them here, but some of our favorites are Twitch Plays Pokémon Plays Tetris, Twitch Plays Zelda, and Twitch Plays Street Fighter.