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The Wisdom of Crowds
February 15, 2014 10:15 PM   Subscribe

For the past three days, the world of streaming gaming has been riveted by an unlikely phenomenon: Twitch Plays Pokemon. Consisting of a live Twitch.TV chatroom hooked up to a classic Game Boy emulation of Pokémon Red, the program is set to recognize a limited number of commands and execute them in real time, allowing an audience of tens of thousands to collectively control the action as they watch. An astonishing amount of progress has been made, including the dramatic last-second defeat of a third gym leader (GIF) and the solution of a notoriously tricky puzzle on the very first attempt. But all for naught, it seems, as Team Twitch finds itself hilariously stranded on the ledges of Route 19 where, as one viewer explained, "they basically have to walk a small path for about ten spaces without anyone pushing down and jumping Red off the ledge," a grim democratic reality the dedicated subreddit /r/twitchplayspokemon has had all kinds of fun with over the last dozen ludicrous hours.
posted by Rhaomi (101 comments total) 38 users marked this as a favorite

 
Of course I don't find this until after posting, but here's a comprehensive status report, action log, and meme gallery hosted on Google Docs.
posted by Rhaomi at 10:24 PM on February 15 [2 favorites]


they just got past the 10 step ledge!! I've been watching on and off all weekend.
posted by hellojed at 10:26 PM on February 15


nevermind!
posted by hellojed at 10:27 PM on February 15 [3 favorites]


it's a beautiful, crippled miracle
posted by Rinku at 10:27 PM on February 15 [2 favorites]


This is remarkably reminiscent of a theatre of attendees in a Las Vegas auditorium playing Pong at Loren Carpenter's presentation at SIGGRAPH in 1991 (kind of a weird inline popup, but the video should work).
posted by figurant at 10:29 PM on February 15 [3 favorites]


This is the problem with all group endeavours. The other people.
posted by fshgrl at 10:32 PM on February 15 [8 favorites]


It's not very effective.
posted by obiwanwasabi at 10:37 PM on February 15 [23 favorites]


Loren Carpenter's presentation

I'm pretty sure that clip is from Adam Curtis' All Watched Over by Machines of Love and Grace, which is definitely worth a watch in its own right.
posted by fifthrider at 10:38 PM on February 15


This techno-future we live in is a confusing place. I would have personally been content with moving sidewalks and the occasional all-in-one three course meal pill, but instead we have to make do with earth-spanning collaborative efforts to move pixels around in decades-old video games.
posted by item at 10:38 PM on February 15 [14 favorites]


Remember that Calvin and Hobbes strip where it's revealed that inside Calvin are a bunch of little Calvins that operate him manually? That's basically what all these people are.

From the Reddit thread:
Except most people aren't trying to be assholes. The lag between the game executing the commands and the twitch feed showing the result is upwards of 20 seconds, and more for others. This means that people are actually still trying to get to a place that Red is already at, but don't know it.

That much lag would seem to be a major problem for an effort like this.
posted by JHarris at 10:54 PM on February 15 [5 favorites]


What will be interesting to see, is if they can clear the Safari Zone, which contains two key items but kicks you out to the entrance after 500 moves.
posted by rifflesby at 11:05 PM on February 15 [2 favorites]


Well, you can try again if you fail the Safari Zone. The problem I'd think is that it costs 500 pokebucks per try, and if the fail is thick in the air he could run out of money, and getting more is a problem since your primary source of money is the limited number of trainer battles. It's been a long time since I played Pokemon, but if cash runs out he'll have to sell items, or in the worst case use a Meowth that knows Pay Day to get more.
posted by JHarris at 11:17 PM on February 15 [1 favorite]


Yeah, I remember beating Pokemon Red and realizing that there was a hard limit on the amount of money in the game (Meowth being Blue-only, you see). This was when I started cheating using that infamous dupe bug.

I'm honestly surprised they're getting anywhere, since the inputs are lagged sufficiently that input is almost completely disconnected from what's on the screen. I'm not sure if that says something positive or negative about Pokemon Red.
posted by Pope Guilty at 11:49 PM on February 15 [2 favorites]


Didn't realize Meowth was Blue only. Looking it up, I see that TM16 teaches Pay Day, can any other Pokemon learn it?
posted by JHarris at 11:55 PM on February 15


Also, I'd forgotten how good the spritework on the old Pokemon games were. I guess when you don't have to animate and the sprite can be a quarter of the screen, you can do some nice things.
posted by Pope Guilty at 11:55 PM on February 15


Didn't realize Meowth was Blue only. Looking it up, I see that TM16 teaches Pay Day, can any other Pokemon learn it?

Maybe? I can't quite read the charts on Bulbapedia to tell.
posted by Pope Guilty at 11:58 PM on February 15


On the Bulbapedia page for Pay Day, halfway down there's a list of pokemon that can learn it, which is a fair number. The page also notes money can be earned by selling items from the Game Corner and fighting the Elite Four and Gary, although at that point in the game that's obviously unavailable.
posted by JHarris at 12:05 AM on February 16


Heh, someone made a live readout graph of the inputs from the chat.
posted by hellojed at 12:21 AM on February 16 [1 favorite]


The Blind Watchmaker plays Pokemon.
posted by ddd at 12:28 AM on February 16 [2 favorites]


Remember that Calvin and Hobbes strip where it's revealed that inside Calvin are a bunch of little Calvins that operate him manually? That's basically what all these people are.

You inspire me, sir.
posted by Rhaomi at 12:33 AM on February 16 [12 favorites]


Marvelous!
posted by rifflesby at 1:11 AM on February 16


Re Safari Zone: The admin of the TPP stream has suggested that he may0 hack the rom/use a GameShark code to remove the 500 step limit for that portion. It sounds like he's rejected a false limit in the possible inputs.
posted by persona at 3:49 AM on February 16


This is amazing. I really hate Pokemon for the exact reason this experiment is able to be successful - it's just a non-stop grind (and punishments are light for death and for incorrect inputs). And yet here I am, watching this stream and hoping those crazy kids make it out of the rock tunnel. I assume this game is pretty much infinitely playable so long as there are a few pokemon that are about 20 levels higher than your opponents.
posted by antonymous at 7:37 AM on February 16


Oh my god this is awful. I mean wonderful, but awful. Twitch chat is an even worse "culture" than Youtube comments, if you can imagine. The idea of it being a hive intelligence is revolting. I love that the Google Doc includes a script to automatically close the menu after someone uselessly spams Start.

Metafilter: down left left a a a b start a down left.
posted by Nelson at 8:49 AM on February 16


Wait, how does this work through Twitch lag? "The amount of lag is approximately 20~40 seconds depending on connection quality." Normally the lag doesn't really matter because everyone chatting is seeing the same delayed stream, so the chatters are in sync with each other even if they're not with the game player. (It's a bit annoying for the streamer, who is seeing people call him "faggot" for a mistake he made 15 seconds ago, but no matter.)

But in this case the Twitch chat messages are controlling the game. I get that Pokemon is not exactly a game of reaction timing, but how does anyone even pick a menu item? Is all the input just effectively random? The Google Doc linked above has an outline item for "compensating for lag" but no description yet.
posted by Nelson at 8:55 AM on February 16


If you're watching the chat, paste the command found at this reddit post into your browser console to remove all the people giving commands. Makes the chat way more tolerable.
posted by Pope Guilty at 8:56 AM on February 16 [1 favorite]


I get that Pokemon is not exactly a game of reaction timing, but how does anyone even pick a menu item? Is all the input just effectively random?

Almost. There's enough of a consensus that things sometimes get done and Red keeps moving, but there's a lot of dithering around and walking in circles and jumping off ledges for six hours at a stretch.
posted by Pope Guilty at 8:57 AM on February 16


Knowing nothing about Pokemon mechanics, I assume that experience gained by your Pokemon is retained if you die?

And wouldn't the next evolution (sorry) of this gameplay mechanic involve not just some sort of way to crowdsource the movement, but some way to crowdsource the banning of certain voices? For example, someone in the chat room created a list of people who were saying "down" during that part where they needed to walk in a straight line - if enough other users issued a command like "flag User01" at some point the software could just stop (maybe temporarily) accepting commands from that user. I suppose at some point you get into a "utility vs potential for abuse by bots" scenario, but it would be neat if it were tried. It'd also be neat to see the source of this and see if it can be ported to other genres.

The protagonist wandering even more aimlessly immediately after a fight only adds to the sense of depth and realism of this game.
posted by antonymous at 9:26 AM on February 16 [1 favorite]


I get that it's a bunch of mixed inputs from the crowd. But 20 seconds lag makes it a whole different kind of random. You see Red standing there on the ledge and you're shouting "Up Up Up" trying to get him to walk the way you want. But really you're seeing events from 20 seconds ago. Your commands are going to apply 20 seconds later, to that menu that got opened but you didn't see it.

Let me put it another way: if only one person were speaking, could they meaningfully control the game? Maybe they have some clever way to address the lag, but I couldn't find it in any links or on the subreddit.
posted by Nelson at 9:28 AM on February 16


Winning chat room quote: "When did we last change batteries?"
posted by ersatz at 10:32 AM on February 16 [2 favorites]


Have they considered trying this, but with a vote model?
posted by Ivan Fyodorovich at 11:19 AM on February 16


guys guys guys someone took the chat input from the pokemon thing and piped it into input into tetris as well and oh my god
posted by cortex at 12:38 PM on February 16 [8 favorites]




The future is hilarious in the weirdest ways.
posted by m0nm0n at 1:20 PM on February 16 [1 favorite]


Have they considered trying this, but with a vote model?

That's what I assumed was happening at first. I'm amazed this works at all.
posted by ChurchHatesTucker at 3:12 PM on February 16


I really hate Pokemon for the exact reason this experiment is able to be successful - it's just a non-stop grind (and punishments are light for death and for incorrect inputs)

Nuzlocke.
posted by obiwanwasabi at 5:51 PM on February 16 [1 favorite]


Tuned in a few minutes ago, just in time to see them get the fourth badge. It's amazing how a flurry of little chat messages can convey such a strong sense of collective relief and buoyant joy.
posted by oulipian at 6:13 PM on February 16 [1 favorite]


Hmm, as a side effect this is sort of fuzz testing the game; it would be cool if the project uncovered some previously-unknown bugs.

Next project: Twitch Composes a Newsletter in Microsoft Outlook?
posted by caaaaaam at 10:41 PM on February 16


Bye JLVWNNOOOO! Bye ABBBBBBK(!: the Crowd decided to let the Pokemon go.

I read a bit more discussion on the subreddit and I gather they don't have any compensation for the lag. People are inputting commands before they can see what's on screen, so that there's no way to even know your "A" button press is confirming releasing your Level 34 Pokemon instead of, say, opening a door. That's too bad, it makes this more of a blind gameplayer exercise than a crowd exercise.
posted by Nelson at 7:40 AM on February 17


Bye JLVWNNOOOO! Bye ABBBBBBK(

I spent a big chunk of my weekend watching House of Cards with TPP on mute (and some javascript in place to scrub input commands out of the chat). The loss of Abby and Jay Leno affected me more than anything in the regular show I was watching did. :(
posted by sparkletone at 7:56 AM on February 17 [2 favorites]


I read a bit more discussion on the subreddit and I gather they don't have any compensation for the lag.

They don't, but I'm not really sure what could be done. The lag can be variable, for instance I get noticeably more when I'm watching on my xbox than when I'm watching on my laptop. In fact, part of the reason this particular game (or series rather) was chosen was that it could be played with the lag without the game being completely impossible to complete.... Not that it will be particularly easy given how long it took them to get through just a relatively simple ledge area (something like 6 hours lol).
posted by sparkletone at 8:13 AM on February 17


NOOO. OUR LORD, HELIX FOSSIL HAS BEEN DEPOSITED IN A PC. HE IS LOST. WE ARE ALL LOST.

(They appeared to be trying to get Pidgeot back out and succeeded ... but at a terrible price.)
posted by sparkletone at 9:12 AM on February 17 [2 favorites]


Is this some kind of new genre or form of art? Is there a label for this? Crowdsourcing doesn't seem right because crowdsourcing seems to have more focus. This is just madness. Entertaining, but madness.

Has there been anything like this before? In the history of collective work? WHAT IS THIS?

How about madsourcing? Floodsourcing? Flooding inputs to accomplish something?
I think we need a name for this kind of performance.
posted by hot_monster at 10:15 AM on February 17


Oh wow. Right now the Fates (or their proxies in this, trolls) are probably frantically reviewing their old copies of Pokemon Red looking for even more ways to screw the game over permanently. "It is possible to maim Pokemon? Turn yourself in for cockfighting? Get in debt to Team Rocket?"
posted by JHarris at 11:16 AM on February 17


It's also worth noting, attempts to remedy some of the flaws in the system, like by hacking the game to make the Safari Zone possible or selectively locking off some inputs to make Victory Road easier, actually weaken the process as a whole. It's not supposed to be easy, or seem possible, to complete Pokemon Red by committee. That's why it's fascinating to watch.

Basically, this is the Wikipedia process applied to a video game.
posted by JHarris at 11:23 AM on February 17 [1 favorite]


How about madsourcing? Floodsourcing? Flooding inputs to accomplish something?
I think we need a name for this kind of performance.


Someone mentioned fuzz testing up thread, and that's the closest thing I can think of... Except instead of automated tools, it's many thousands of bored and/or crazy people.

This is definitely the most hard-to-explain Internet thing I've encountered in a minute though, as gloriously entertaining as I'm finding all the crazy stuff growing up around it.

Related: Someone made me feel better about Helix Fossil getting deposited.
posted by sparkletone at 11:39 AM on February 17 [1 favorite]


It's not supposed to be easy, or seem possible, to complete Pokemon Red by committee. That's why it's fascinating to watch.

I think whoever it is that's running the thing has done a good job of striking a balance between complete impossibility and "achievable with great exertion."

Also, checking in on the stream while I was eating lunch... I expected the number of people tuned in to stay at around the 45-50k number it had been floating around most of the weekend, but it's up at 70k right now, making Pokemon Red/Blue the second most watched game on Twitch right now behind LoL. I can only imagine how crazy it's going to get when they get nearer the end of the game and people tune in to see the thrilling climax.
posted by sparkletone at 11:43 AM on February 17


Keep forgetting to link this explanation of how they got past a ledge section. I think that's maybe as good as can be expected as far as fighting the lag and ensuring that the actual game state matches what's on screen.
posted by sparkletone at 11:51 AM on February 17 [3 favorites]


That's really clever, they're basically using the Start menu as a sort of mutex to lock against. When Twitch hands you lag, you can make lagerade.
posted by Nelson at 2:09 PM on February 17


I think whoever it is that's running the thing has done a good job of striking a balance between complete impossibility and "achievable with great exertion."

Balance is irrelevant, once you start talking about making Pokemon Red by committee balanced you're adding in your own game design ideals into this. Not exactly as advertised.
posted by JHarris at 2:11 PM on February 17 [1 favorite]


Balance is irrelevant, once you start talking about making Pokemon Red by committee balanced you're adding in your own game design ideals into this. Not exactly as advertised.

I don't mean balance in the same way that, say, Starcraft 2 or LoL is balanced. I mean that the person(s) already clearly by what they've said in a couple interviews have taken some steps to make the game more interesting/more beatable than it would be in its default state. They're not being as sadistic as they could be.

At one point earlier had to reload a save state because they'd not properly prevented a soft reset input sequence from being used until it was too late. So strictly speaking if no modifications were done, things would already be dead and over. Soft reset would've ended the fun. And then also, when asked about the Safari Zone and its step count... "I'm concerned about the Safari Zone, if it does prove impossible I will consider modifying the game to make it easier but I still want to see the stream give it their best try without any compromises."

They clearly want the game to be completable in something very vaguely resembling a reasonable manner given the constraints set by the input method.
posted by sparkletone at 2:37 PM on February 17


PS. This is the interview that quote about the Safari Zone is from. I thought it'd already been linked in the thread, but I guess not.
posted by sparkletone at 2:38 PM on February 17


The Safari Zone footstep limit was pretty bogus even in single-player, though. You've only got 500 moves to do accomplish a goal that requires 400-something moves, which is tough to do on your own even with a map on hand. Even eliminating trolls and bots, the good intentions of even a few dozen people combined with the stream's lag would blow through that ceiling effortlessly. even even even

This isn't like The Ledge, where they had to avoid a single spurious input ("down") for the ten seconds or so it takes to reach the next area. We're talking about avoiding ANY input that doesn't adhere to a highly efficient and specific plan -- of which there are many, many possible ones -- over the course of an hour or more of gameplay. The rest of the game allows you to muddle through while following a crazy zigzag path, but Safari Zone makes that entire method of gameplay impossible.
posted by Rhaomi at 2:46 PM on February 17 [1 favorite]




I had this up in a tiny window at work all day today while I debugged some PITA spaghetti code from a guy who left the company three years ago. Every time I got frustrated, I looked at it and thought about how it could be so much, much worse.
posted by double block and bleed at 5:40 PM on February 17


I mean that the person(s) already clearly by what they've said in a couple interviews have taken some steps to make the game more interesting/more beatable than it would be in its default state.

Yes. But my point is this isn't stated up front, if you have to go looking for interviews to learn it then it's still slightly a bait-and-switch, I mean it wasn't mentioned in the FPP here. And making it more interesting/beatable is a game design choice, it's adding the opinions of the stream maintainer into the project when ideally it should just be the players.

I am being a little argumentative here, I suppose, it's fairly minor and you can tell that the people doing it mean well. But it's not strictly a bunch of people playing Pokemon Red, which is after all a game a whole lot of people have prior experience with and is a known quantity, by committee. People reading about it afterward will be thinking to themselves "How the hell did they finish the fricking Safari Zone?", and it'll only be after doing some research into it that they'll discover the answer isn't that there was a heroic and awesome coordination of effort, but they hacked the game to make it possible.
posted by JHarris at 11:03 PM on February 17


Six months of trying the Safari Zone over and over and running out of money and starting the game over isn't fun or interesting.
posted by Pope Guilty at 1:05 AM on February 18 [1 favorite]


But my point is this isn't stated up front, if you have to go looking for interviews to learn it then it's still slightly a bait-and-switch, I mean it wasn't mentioned in the FPP here.

Literally the first question says that it's a romhack being used:
What is this?

TwitchPlaysPokemon is a social experiment, it is a stream of the Gameboy version of Pokemon Red (151 romhack) running on an emulator. An IRC bot translates buttons said in chat into keypresses (simulated in software, no fancy typist robots).
Admittedly it doesn't get into why but it's not hard to guess why 151 was chosen even if it hadn't been asked in an interview. Also, I'm sure the question/answer will be altered to mention the Safari Zone once that change has been made (it hasn't been officially as far as I know, they've just said it's likely to happen in an interview because lol at that section ever being completed otherwise). I'm not sure how much more up front they can be about this sort of thing.

That said, I do understand your point. I think it's just where we draw the line between "acceptable" interference and "not in the spirit of the project" that differs. The stream maintainer clearly errs on the side of entertainment value/being able to complete the game while wanting to be as hands off as they can manage. I think they've done just fine so far. The start button throttling is another instance of stream creator interference that I totally get behind (the select button had to be disabled entirely to prevent soft resets since it has no other purpose here).
posted by sparkletone at 1:25 AM on February 18 [1 favorite]


Literally the first question says that it's a romhack being used:

Literally the first question in the FAQ on the stream page, that is. I guess if you only ever see Polygon or Kotaku with an embed of the twitch feed it might be less clear, but that's not the creators' fault.
posted by sparkletone at 1:35 AM on February 18


Well, I did say it was a fairly minor concern, heh.
posted by JHarris at 1:53 AM on February 18


Oh, wow. The stream just went down for a bit and when it came back up, they'd implemented a voting system (about every 30 seconds the top voted move would be entered). It seems pretty buggy though as it was accepting inputs like "downb" and "abba." Stream's down again now, so it looks like they're still tweaking it. I'm concerned a voting system will just make it easier for trolls to coordinate and release everything. They're already standing pretty close to a PC....
posted by sparkletone at 2:15 AM on February 18


Calling them with its siren song, practically begging them to clear out the party.
posted by JHarris at 2:29 AM on February 18


They've been tweaking the voting a little so it's not as bad as it first was when it came up. I don't see this actually helping progress through the rocket HQ arrow maze(s). Seems like stream lag is still killing progress as they're trying to merely go out a door...
posted by sparkletone at 2:31 AM on February 18


I started watching just in time to see the stream democracy its way out of the maze, anarchy its way through a fight, and then not turn off anarchy in time to immediately be put back into the maze it had spent (apparently) 10 hours trying to escape. Hilarious!
posted by codacorolla at 7:53 AM on February 18 [3 favorites]


I also have to say that two of my favorite "games" of the last year or so have been this and SaltyBet. Less player-vs-player or player-vs-machine, but rather group-vs-system or group-vs-randomness. Voting and gambling are both integral parts of our more serious game systems in the real world (the political process, sports, actual gambling for money), but are things that don't get touched much outside of board games.
posted by codacorolla at 8:27 AM on February 18 [1 favorite]


I watched them go through several revisions/reversions of a voting system. All of them were purely worse than pure anarchy. One of them was so misguided that the channel revolted and simply spammed "start9", which corresponded to 9 presses of the start button until the change got rolled back. The democracy/anarchy thing got added after I went to sleep.

I find this really interesting, especially since its viewership setting what mode they're currently in. I'm not sure if this is as gleefully stupid to (intermittently) watch as the initial section of pure anarchy, but I'm also after yesterday not going to immediately knock anything that allows for some progress to be made.
posted by sparkletone at 8:54 AM on February 18


I'm kind of liking the new system now that they've worked out some of the kinks. The current participants count just hit 100,000!
posted by oulipian at 1:55 PM on February 18


I fucking love this. I feel like this is Art, you know, the kind of social experiment stuff that you get with participatory art exhibits in museums where you end up with bunches of people measuring their heights and the aggregate creating something, except what's created is a combination of the monkey/typewriter problem and the failures and triumphs of the wisdom of crowds. It's just a lovely experiment; it takes Pokemon and makes something new out of it and... I don't know how to explain it. It just tickles me.
posted by NoraReed at 6:56 PM on February 18 [1 favorite]


After spending the past 2 days, or whatever, in the current location, Red just beat the boss and then teleported out of the room before grabbing the plot-essential item the boss drops. It's probably one of the funniest things I've seen in a while.
posted by codacorolla at 8:22 PM on February 18 [1 favorite]


12 hours and 3600 deaths in, Twitch sucks at Super Mario Brothers.
posted by Pope Guilty at 3:00 AM on February 19 [1 favorite]


I've been following this off and on without participating, and it really is fascinating.

There's a cultural value to both systems of governance: Democrats seem to want to get things done, and see playing the game as a challenge; Anarchists seem to want a funny in-game narrative, and see the Democrats as essentially trying to force everyone to participate in an unfun Let's Play with a gimmick.

The hitch to the slider system of governance is that you can only guide the player-character or vote for the governing system. Therefore, whenever it hits one extreme, it inevitably slides to the other as people who have gained control try to capitalize on it.

Anarchists have a distinct advantage in this regard, since they can abuse the nature of democracy to filibuster anything from happening (if you see start9 winning it's because anarchists are trying to stymie democracy until they can regain control). Ironically, the group promoting anarchy is actually structurally better aligned to make use of the democratic system.

Democracy is a big, clunky thing that requires a lot of high level control, which I haven't seen evidence of democrats actually using. Anarchy is quick and nimble with a single goal (go back to anarchy), so it's easy for the start9 meme to catch on and be used without any centralized planning.

Another ironic twist is that if Democracy was able to rally behind some sort of centralized system (a sub-reddit, maybe) then it would be massively effective. A single planning board, or even a single person, would be able to issue commands to specific actors to spam democracy, and to issue whatever their preferred command is. This would destroy the game, as it stands, since then you'd truly have a byzantine Let's Play instead of a crowd-sourced experiment. It wouldn't really be democracy at all, but rather a despotic monarchy of people who care enough to take control.

This is putting aside the various scripts and bots that have cropped up with conflicting agendas to win / sabotage the progress of Red.
posted by codacorolla at 10:28 AM on February 19 [5 favorites]


It's particularly interesting to note that the Anarchists aren't objecting to Democracy per se, just to what they see as unnecessary use of it. When a good 15 minutes were spent trying to get Giovanni's elevator to work, and finally democracy was voted in, there was hardly a start9 to be seen -- until they were done with the elevator, whereupon anarchy was quickly voted back in. But if democracy gets turned on when they're just walking from one place to another, it'll be start9-bombed to hell.
posted by rifflesby at 1:23 PM on February 19


Basically, a lot of the anarchists, perhaps even most of them, just see Democracy as cheating.
posted by rifflesby at 1:25 PM on February 19 [1 favorite]


Basically, a lot of the anarchists, perhaps even most of them, just see Democracy as cheating.

The irony to me here is that these same people were getting so fed up after the 18th hour or whatever stuck in the wrong arrow maze back in Team Rocket HQ.

Also, I love that so many people care about the particulars of the control scheme of a stream of a video game being played remotely on a computer somewhere in australia via a ... stream chat. The future is weird and kind of awesome sometimes.
posted by sparkletone at 1:44 PM on February 19


Democracy and Anarchy are two different perfectly acceptable systems of running a game like this. The thing is, switching between them seems less elegant than sticking with one, especially if it's a human mind deciding to switch, based on the events in the emulator. To continue the political analogy, it's like a president deciding which way to run an election based on whatever will produce the results he wants.

However, it is nice when the Republicans trolls can be prevented from throwing the country Red off a cliff.
posted by JHarris at 2:16 PM on February 19


I would say that after the introduction of the slider it effectively became the game. It's less a collaborative effort than an ideological battle, it seems. Much like the way that political parties become ends unto themselves rather than tools for leading a group. It's more about rooting for your team and less about realistic policy differences and outcomes, although those things still tend to happen as a byproduct.
posted by codacorolla at 2:30 PM on February 19 [2 favorites]


The thing is, switching between them seems less elegant than sticking with one, especially if it's a human mind deciding to switch, based on the events in the emulator.

It's not one human mind. It's the chat collectively, messily deciding which it wants at any given time. I think this is working out better in terms of game progress than pure anarchy without sacrificing the wacky chaos of the original input method.

They're about to try to get a recently acquired Hitmonlee (nicknamed "CCC" in game and "C3KO" outside of it) out of the PC while in anarchy mode.... Which means a not small chance of deposits/releases, so I will for a little be anxiously watching, not just paying attention to the meta.
posted by sparkletone at 4:01 PM on February 19


... And of course they immediately deposit a bunch of important items. AND RELEASED C3KO!!!!!

I fucking love the internet.
posted by sparkletone at 4:03 PM on February 19 [4 favorites]


Hitmonlee, we hardly knew ye.
posted by rifflesby at 12:13 AM on February 20


I check this every day now. Day 11 has been a massacre... they've been at the PC for something like 6 hours trying to get Bird Jesus back, and accidentally released x(araggbaj, Dux, AAJST(???? (DigRat), and several others in the process. But they can't leave because Air Jordan (the Lapras with Surf) is also stuck in the PC and they need it to progress.
posted by oulipian at 9:35 AM on February 23


I've been reading summaries of Hobbes' Leviathan in light of the recent PC bloodbath, and it really is great...

Other kind of Commonwealth there can be none: for either one, or more, or all, must have the sovereign power (which I have shown to be indivisible) entire. There be other names of government in the histories and books of policy; as tyranny and oligarchy; but they are not the names of other forms of government, but of the same forms misliked. For they that are discontented under monarchy call it tyranny; and they that are displeased with aristocracy call it oligarchy: so also, they which find themselves grieved under a democracy call it anarchy, which signifies want of government; and yet I think no man believes that want of government is any new kind of government: nor by the same reason ought they to believe that the government is of one kind when they like it, and another when they mislike it or are oppressed by the governors.
posted by codacorolla at 9:50 AM on February 23


Yeah I just checked in too and surprised to see it going strong. It's a 24 hour game, so as different parts of the world are awake there's a sort of regional identity expressed on the Reddit. Here's America in shock at what Europe did, here's some Aussie pride.

The fan art is the Internet culture at its best. 4chan-style image creativity only instead of something horrible it's funny, creative, and occasionally poignant.
posted by Nelson at 9:52 AM on February 23 [3 favorites]


They got all 8 badges. Today apparently they even made it to Victory Road (and past the ledge of doom), but blacked out. This is beautiful.
posted by Gordafarin at 11:52 AM on February 27 [2 favorites]


My favorite thing has been all the great Pokemon nicknames:

ABBBBBBK ( = Abby
JLVWNNOOOO = Jay Leno
aaabaaajss = Bird Jesus
AAAAAAAAAA = King Fonz
GASTLY = Rick Gastly
AATTVVV = All-Terrain Venomoth

Also, there is now an extensive TVTropes page.
posted by Rhaomi at 5:04 PM on February 27 [3 favorites]


That Tropes page is great. So much ascended fanon.
posted by ChurchHatesTucker at 7:08 PM on February 27


They're fighting the Elite Four. One run has made it all the way to Blue.
posted by Holy Zarquon's Singing Fish at 2:45 PM on February 28


WE DID IT!

Looks like Gen 2 will start Sunday morning, so people can finally rest from spamming the chat 24/7. A tiny bit.
posted by flatluigi at 1:29 AM on March 1 [3 favorites]


They're not going to try to rustle themselves up a Mewtwo?
posted by JHarris at 3:54 AM on March 1


Video of the decisive battle. It went really quick - the whole thing's just 10 minutes and it goes all the way to the credits. Although I guess if everything hadn't gone right it wouldn't have been a winning run.
posted by Holy Zarquon's Singing Fish at 4:48 AM on March 1


I sort of wish I'd "been there" to see it, but I'm happy that the stream prevailed. This is definitely one of my favorite Internet based things ever.
posted by codacorolla at 7:09 AM on March 1


Twitch Plays Pokemon is the worst form of gov­ern­ment except for all those other kinds that have been tried from time to time.
posted by oulipian at 7:44 AM on March 1 [2 favorites]


DANCE PARTAAAAAAAAAAY

Twitch Plays Pokemon is the worst form of gov­ern­ment except for all those other kinds that have been tried from time to time.
aaronm7191:
"Onto TwitchPilotsMilitaryDrone to solve the conflict in the Ukraine."
posted by Rhaomi at 7:49 AM on March 1 [1 favorite]


Is there a writeup of how the control scheme evolved? I sort of understand the Democracy/Anarchy thing but wouldn't mind seeing details. I'm more interested in lag management. The Twitch notes say the Democracy mode is a vote every 20 seconds, does that mean it's only one controller input every 20 seconds? That seems impossibly slow! And still laggy; the vote ends right before your see what your input will do, although at least you only have to think one move ahead now. The final fight seems to be in Anarchy mode, so maybe the precision of Democracy isn't necessary in the battle screens.
posted by Nelson at 8:26 AM on March 1


Democracy is indeed really really slow - that's one reason it was rarely invoked, and almost always for monster management, where button mashing would never get the needed result.
posted by Holy Zarquon's Singing Fish at 8:32 AM on March 1


It was originally intended for puzzles that would be untenable otherwise, of which there were a couple; the Safari Zone, some tower, and the boulders in Victory Road. Lag management gave it an interesting edge, too; the puzzles visibly overshot the first couple of times until everybody worked out how to compensate by inputting the future movements needed.

I've been following this for the last couple of days and have been extremely entertained by all the mythology and fanart that's sprung up.
posted by solarion at 1:21 PM on March 1


Democracy is also a lot harder to instate now than anarchy - I think the numbers are a 70% consensus to turn it on and then a 25% consensus to switch it back off.

It's only meant to be used for things anarchy could absolutely never overcome within a year.
posted by flatluigi at 3:34 AM on March 2


And they're back for generation two! I'm not sure which version this is because I missed the title screen, but they picked Totodile.
posted by Holy Zarquon's Singing Fish at 5:06 AM on March 2




...aaand they just beat the next game (Pokemon Crystal). Only ten days!

I also just learned about Twitch Plays Real Pokemon, which hooks a Twitch chat up to, not an emulator, but a physical Gameboy, via custom-built robotic peripherals.

THE FUTURE IS NOW
posted by Rhaomi at 10:36 PM on March 12 [2 favorites]


Wait, what happened to Gold/Silver?
posted by JHarris at 1:37 PM on March 13


Isn't Crystal the definitive version of Gold/Silver, like Yellow is to Red/Blue?
posted by codacorolla at 5:33 PM on March 13


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