TwitchTV makes Pokémon run in circles
Published: Tuesday, February 18, 2014
Updated: Tuesday, February 18, 2014 20:02
It seems that poor Red will never be the Pokémon master like he always wanted. Instead, he seems to have taken ill with a curious disease–some form of schizophrenia, perhaps? He seems to find himself wandering around in circles, acting erratically, the voices in his head screaming to move in different directions and act in ways that make no sense. However, we know the truth; we know that he’s really suffering from a bad case of Twitch.TV.
Last week, some brilliant, anonymous mind had an idea: What if thousands of players all played the same game at the exact same time? What would happen? To try it out, he picked a game that didn’t require a lot of reaction time and featured turned based-gameplay. The game was “Pokémon: Red Version.” So, whoever this man is, set things up so that the entire Internet could play a single game of “Pokémon: Red Version.”
To do this, he set up the game via an emulator to allow it to be streamed on Twitch.TV, a popular video game streaming site, which allows viewers to watch and comment on people playing popular games, such as “League of Legends” and “World of Warcraft.” He then programmed a bot to read and analyze all comments that corresponded to the controls on a standard Game Boy (A, B, Up, Down, Start, Select, etc.). Anytime a commenter says one of these specific commands, the bot inputs it into the game. The results have been amusing, to say the least. In addition, the game has two modes, anarchy and democracy. In anarchy mode, every single input is recorded and acted upon, while in democracy mode, all moves must be voted on.
Poor Red (the playable character), as I stated earlier, has been absolutely lost. He’s spent minutes walking into walls, trying to use key items in battles, talking to the same people and releasing his Pokémon. Encounters and areas that should have taken at most a few minutes to clear have taken hours. A game that usually runs about 10-12 hours has now gone on for nearly six days of playtime. As an avid “Pokémon” player myself, it couldn’t be more hilarious; not that everything is funny, however. I was quite sad when his Ratatta, “ABBBBBBK,” and Charmeleon, “JLWWNNOOOO,” were released. They were named by players in a frenzy of button mashing, hence the rather bizarre names.
The entire scenario is, of the author’s own admission, a social experiment. Exactly what he’s testing is somewhat unclear, as not much other information has been released. Whatever the case, the stream has been an amazing success. It’s already spawned countless memes (including memorializing the aforementioned released Pokémon), a subreddit, fansites and analysis by countless websites, including Joystiq and Kotaku. The stream has already boasted a record 78,000 simultaneous users, an incredibly high number for any stream.
That being said, I really wish I knew more about what the author’s hypothesis was in starting this experiment. Whatever it was, people really have come together to work towards a common goal here. We may be making incredibly slow progress, but the fact that we’re making any at all should still be considered an achievement in and of itself. Maybe sometimes the Internet can come together as one, instead of users doing everything in their power to ruin each other’s days.