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.