Massive Pokémon game captivates

‘Twitch Plays Pokémon’ draws millions.

Twitch Plays Pokémon has just finished one of the most intriguing gaming experiments of the year so far. Tens of thousands of Internet users collectively worked together to beat the Gameboy Colour game Pokémon Red on the online streaming service Twitch.

TPP began Feb. 12, when an anonymous developer created a live-stream of Pokémon Red, and hacked the site’s chat box to serve as the controller for the game. The spectators in the chat would then type out their commands into the game. The game processes them concurrently, leading to absolute chaos. The stream began as a social experiment to further prove that that the infinite monkey theorem is true. The theorem states that a monkey hitting keys at random on a typewriter keyboard for an infinite amount of time will almost surely type a given text. With the chat typing in various instructions into the chat and seventeen days into the stream, the players beat the game’s final bosses, the Elite Four, and became the Pokémon Champion.

The channel attracted more than thirty-five million unique views over its span and at its peak, there were nearly 120,000 players participating in the experiment. After twenty-four hours of completing Pokémon Red, the gamers have begun to play Pokémon Crystal, which is a third generation title for the series.

Twitch’s VP of marketing Matthew DiPietro said that the original stream was an example of “how video games have become a platform for entertainment and creativity that extends way beyond the original intent of the game creator.”

The stream inspired a vocal following, with a dedicated forum on Reddit, collecting masses of fan-art, cults on Twitter following particular Pokémon, and videos of the players favourite moments popping up all over YouTube.

“By merging a video game, live video, and a participatory experience, the broadcaster has created an entertainment hybrid custom made for the Twitch community,” DiPietro said. “This is a wonderful proof on concept that we hope to see more of in the future.”

It is not clear how much TPP will continue to attract such large amount of interest, as the original game went viral mostly due to its novelty, but the blending of spectating and participation is a valid format, that we may see more of in the future. To follow its progress through Pokémon Crystal, you can watch the stream at or follow the twitter @TwitchPlaysPokemon for updates.

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