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article imageOp-Ed: 'Twitch Plays Pokemon' takes the Internet by storm Special

By Sylvannia Soulet     Feb 21, 2014 in Entertainment
In the wake of Flappy Bird's demise, a new Internet sensation has taken over that's one part Internet phenomenon, one part social experiment, and all parts frustration.
As I’m writing this, the iconic battle music is playing in the background on my laptop. It’s an all-too familiar tune to an all-too familiar video game franchise. But what is taking place is much too tantalizing to ignore.
For the past nine days, users from across the globe have congregated on a 24-hour livestream hosted at to do one thing and one thing only: play Pokémon.
Or Pokémon Red, to be precise. The game was originally released in 1998 to much media frenzy and hullabaloo (who could forget the infamous episode of "Pokémon" that sent scores of Japanese children to the hospital?). Now, over a decade later, the popular video game franchise has once again caused a sensation. But we’ve seen it all before, and have since seen it in much better iterations. What makes this playthrough any different?
The person responsible for putting up the stream, a programmer from Australia that shall remain anonymous, has tweaked the game so that the playable character, or “Ash,” can be controlled by inputting simple commands via the livestream’s chat. The catch? Every single command that is entered in the chat will be registered, and anyone can join in on the fun; as a result, the more people that participate, the more commands that are entered, and the more chaotic the endeavor of playing the game becomes.
At the time of writing the article, there are over 70,000 active users inputting commands and over 20 million spectators watching the livestream (myself included). While most participants are trying to coordinate their efforts to finish the game, there is a sizeable number of users that are just as content with stalling progress and making the game virtually impossible to complete. It is truly an exercise in patience.
Enter Anarchy/Democracy – the second tweak the programmer created a few days into the game when progress seemed to come to a standstill. In addition to inputting the basic commands of Pokémon Red (up, down, left, right, b, a, start), users can also vote for the method by which the commands are utilized. If the game is in “Democracy Mode” an action only registers after a brief poll of the most popular command; if the game is in “Anarchy Mode” (and the majority of the time it is), then the game proceeds to accept every command as it is inputted.
This added interactive feature had transformed what started out as a simple game into a social experiment that takes the "Infinite Monkey Theorem" to the extreme. In the span of a week, the livestream has evolved into an accurate depiction of the human condition; a literal, real-time struggle between good and evil. "Twitch Plays Pokemon" has garnered a massive following; fans have already penned compelling epics surrounding the livestream, comparing it to the trials and tribulations of Jesus Christ in the Holy Bible.
Pokémon on par with religion? A laughable sentiment to be sure, but game developers should seriously take note the impact this livestream is having online (Nintendo, especially). I wouldn’t be surprised if this format of crowdsourcing gameplay endures to become a staple in the next-gen gaming community.
This opinion article was written by an independent writer. The opinions and views expressed herein are those of the author and are not necessarily intended to reflect those of
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