This is not the Pokemon MMO and if you are confused by what the title means, imagine thousands of people mashing buttons on a single Gameboy simultaneously. In what has become the biggest attraction on Twitch.tv this past week, tens of thousands of viewers are tuning in to watch fellow Twitch viewers attempt to play the same game of Pokemon Red using the Twitch chat. If that still doesn’t make sense, you might as well take a look for yourself and try to guess what’s going on.
Pokemon Red Version (and Blue Version) was first released in the United States in 1998 for the Gameboy during the Pokemon craze. Emulating the Gameboy is no problem these days, but someone has setup a Twitch stream of an emulated Pokemon Red that can be controlled from the Twitch chat (the gameplay commands are left, right, up, down, start, A, B.) Viewers type one of these commands into the chat while an IRC channel parses the valid commands into the emulated Gameboy which is streamed back to Twitch. The real challenge is cooperation amongst the viewers flooding the chat with commands.
This bizarre social experiment has yielded some surprising and amusing results of the collective. Game progress has been incredibly slow as the swarm of inputs has Red (the name of the character) often wandering in circles and releasing captured Pokemon. None of this is helped by the 30 second streaming delay on Twitch. Roughly 5 days into the challenge, the Anarchy and Democracy commands were added to give the collective a chance to better navigate the most difficult sections of the game though popular vote, though Anarchy has been the main standard of getting things done. Dorkly has documented some of the most notable events. Despite all this, at the time of writing poor Red has made it to the Safari Zone (one of the most challenging obstacles in the game) after 8 days, giving hope to the optimists that the Elite Four may someday be defeated.