So, it’s March 27, 2014. (Yes I’m dating this.) I am tired, exhausted both physically and mentally, and yet I couldn’t be happier. Over the past week, I went on a trip that I will remember for a long time. I joined our beloved Lady Dukes and went to Texas with the JMU Pep Band (Ho!) to watch our girls play their hearts out in the NCAA Tournament. While the final result was not what we were hoping for (we ended up losing in the second round) the experience was unforgettable. To be around the team and hang out with them and to get to know each other was an incredible experience. We got to see a new place that most of us have never seen before in College Station, Texas, and we got to experience food that we have never experienced before, among many other things. With way too much money to spend in a single day on food being given to us by the university, and a roof over our heads, also by the university, you could say we were living the American Dream ideology for a few days.
However, that’s not what I’m going to talk about in this short paper. I’m going to talk about a moment where my naming an athlete was violated at the end of the trip. We, those labeled as fans, create a persona and certain expectations when we name someone an athlete. We expect them to be tough and athletic. We expect them to be almost looking down on the rest of us. Maybe not look down as much as we expect them to think of us fans as one of a lot. Whenever I personally talk to an athlete and tell them they did a good job, my naming them as an athlete makes me expect that they’ll say thank you and move on with their lives. After all me telling them good job is just one of a lot of people saying the same thing right? Well, on Tuesday night after our loss to Texas A&M, I experienced an anomaly to this that I will remember for the rest of my life. We stayed up at the hotel to cheer on the girls after they returned from the loss. When they got back you could tell they were devastated, but they were holding it together. Staying tough, to use that word again. Once things started to disband, and the girls were heading towards the elevator to go to sleep, I pulled one of them aside, one of the two seniors Kirby Burkholder, hugged her, and told her that what she did in our win against Gonzaga on Sunday was magical. With just a few minutes left in that game and us down by four, Kirby stepped up and led a 12-0 run by JMU that eventually gave us the win. When I told her what she did was magical, I just expected a thank you. She did. However, she also started crying. I could tell that what I said to her really resonated with her, and this violated my expectations of her. It was as if, right at that moment, I, one person, told her exactly what she needed to hear. This experience is definitely an anomaly within this power structure. At that moment, the relationship from athlete-to-student felt more like a relationship from a friend-to-friend. It touched me as much as it touched her, and I will not forget it for a long time.
Update on my paper: I have begun writing the paper, but am only about a page in. Still not an easy task but I still have the confidence that I will be able to do it.
While the Twitch Plays Pokémon phenomenon was occurring, an ideology formed around a certain item. Now for the setup: in the early days of Twitch Plays Pokémon, the world was utter chaos. There was no order, no power structure, no social hierarchy, just our hero Red mindlessly wandering around the world. Well, very early on Red received the Helix Fossil from one of the individuals you encounter. This Helix Fossil was an item, and thus was stored in the item slot of Red’s backpack. Whenever Red would go into battle, chaos would always follow, as the “Fight” function of the menu would be clicked on only about 25% of the time. The “Item” icon would also be clicked on about 25% of the time. While many items were discarded or improperly used as the players (and the trolls) would try to exit the item’s menu, one that could not be discarded was Helix Fossil. As Red constantly clicked on the Helix Fossil and Professor Oak constantly said that it wasn’t time to use that item, an ideology formed.
Over time, people created the ideology that Red was consulting the Helix Fossil for guidance. A superordinate was formed around this fossil to explain the anomaly of Red constantly clicking on it. This idea was created, and Twitch ran with it. The Helix Fossil was named the lord and savior of our hero Red and really of the entire world of Twitch Plays Pokémon. Many memes were created (such as the one pictured above) as many were quick to adopt this ideology. The ideology was created due to a need-based intervention, as the players were trying to find a way to explain anomaly that was constantly clicking on the Helix Fossil. Many events and characters were named and placed into different categories to fit this ideology. For example, an Pokémon called an Eevee was acquired at one point accidentally and it led to many negative events within the game, and thus this Eevee was labeled as evil and a heretic trying to break Red from his loyalty to the Helix Fossil. Additionally, when the Helix Fossil was finally used late in the game (it existed for one purpose and one purpose only) the creature that was created was referred to as a god. The ideology of the Helix Fossil was associated with many things including anarchy, the most powerful Pokémon in Red’s arsenal, referred to as Bird Jesus, and of course the god himself, the Pokémon Omanyte which was eventually evolved into his most advanced form, Omastar. The opposing ideology, which was created simply to oppose the Helix Fossil, was the Dome Fossil ideology. When Red acquired the Helix Fossil, he was given a choice between it and the Dome Fossil. The Dome Fossil represents things like the Democracy system put in place discussed earlier, as well as Eevee. Additionally, an extremely powerful Pokémon was caught in the later stages of the game which led to many Pokémon accidentally being released from the PC as Red tried to get this Pokémon out of the PC. This Pokémon was also labeled as a heretic and named Anti-Jesus.
While Twitch has beaten Pokémon, the ideology of this original play through has not made it into the later play throughs. This is because the only people who now play Twitch Plays Pokémon are the people who want to actually beat Pokémon. As quickly as this became an Internet phenomenon, it became a shadow of it’s former self just as fast. As of late March, the stream was averaging less than 10,000 viewers at any one time, compared to 100,000+ viewers at any one time at the end of February of the same year. It’s amazing how quickly things rise and fall on the Internet. However this is another discussion for another time.
Update on my paper: I am still acquiring research and also using the book to try to figure out how to write the paper. I have not chosen an easy subject, however I am confident that I will be able to pull this one off. Next step is to begin writing the paper!
So remember my discussion of Twitch Plays Pokémon earlier? Well I’m going to talk a lot more about it. It’s unfortunate that this started happening after I picked my topic for my final paper otherwise this would be it. I hope I am conveying to you the incredible phenomenon that is Twitch Plays Pokémon, because it is unlike anything the Internet, the ENTIRE Internet, has ever seen. To see over a hundred thousand players simultaneously play a simple game of Pokémon is something that we’ve never seen before. And likely will never see again. In this entry, I am going to talk about the how Twitch actually beat Pokémon.
Early in the morning of March 1, 2014, something amazing happened. Twitch beat Pokémon. Over 391 hours of gameplay later, they did it. How did they do it? Somewhere around day 14 (out of 17 total) the players of Twitch had an attention intervention. They realized that their Pokémon were not strong enough to take on the final bosses of the game, the Elite Four, and as a result spent over a day making their Pokémon stronger. Up until this point, strategy had been mostly ignored. The character in the game, Red, mostly would just schizophrenically make his way to whatever the next destination was, and then fight the next boss to advance. There was some strategy in specific areas because it would be legitimately impossible for Red to advance without it, but on day 14, a group of players successfully brought the idea that Red was not ready for the final battles from the background to the foreground. These players placed emphasis on the anomalies-Red being defeated due to lack of preparation-and made the rest of the stream realize that they needed to beef up Red’s Pokémon. After advocating their position for quite some time, the rest of the players opened up to the idea, and thus Red spent over a day beefing up his Pokémon.
Once the group felt ready, they made their way to the Elite Four. After several failed attempts, (about 20) Twitch did it. They beat Pokémon. What happened was that the Twitch players took the attention intervention started on day 14 and created a reciprocal social hierarchy. The entire group, 100,000+ players at this point, all started working together to defeat the final adversary. Very similar to the student-student relationship, the players worked together and cooperated, ultimately defeating the final boss. I tuned in for the final fight, and what I saw amazed me. Unlike any point before it in the experiment’s lifetime, everyone was working together. There were no trolls sending the input of start for no reason. Nope. Everyone was using what little control they had over the game to do the logical thing in that situation. Like attack instead of flee. (Which you can’t do, but the option is there.) And when the players finally got the attack selected that they wanted to do, the amount of “A”s that came flying in was amazing. Hundreds of the same input, with not a single input of anything else being entered. Not one. The social hierarchy that was created, to actually beat the game, shined through everything else, despite the fact that the anarchy system was in place throughout this process.
Twitch Plays Pokémon has since moved on to later versions of Pokémon, however they do not have the same power and resonance this this first play through had. It’ll never be the same as when our hero Red managed to take down the Elite Four and then his ultimate rival, Blue.
Update on my paper: I am still searching for resources on the paper. There are not as many as I would’ve liked but I am not concerned yet.