Twitch Plays Pokemon: Creating Another Internet Sub-Culture
Pokemon. The game that most of us grew up playing, loving, catching, and battling. A game that made children smile and overly religious parents freak out. The game that defined a generation. The franchise that has sold over 245 million copies that absolutely refuses to die. The latest release from the series was the critically acclaimed Pokemon X & Y, but it is Pokemon Red that takes the spotlight today.
Here’s where the website Twitch.tv comes into the story. Twitch.tv has been the home of many games, the most popular being League of Legends, but the user TwitchPlaysPokemon stands to change the face of Twitch. At the time of this writing, there are over 70,000 people who have collectively been playing and watching a single game of Pokemon for over 5 days. How can this many people play a single player game you ask? The simple answer is that they can’t. Not without the help of emulators, the Internet and good ol’ fashion programming.
The idea is simple, let the viewers play the game. People comment “Up, Down, Left, Right, A, B, or Start,” and it translates to the movements and actions of the character “RED” in the game. While this seems like it would work for a few individuals, but when there are thousands of people commenting at once, the results can get a little ridiculous. Anywhere from unexpectedly dropping valuable items to releasing useful and powerful Pokemon, TwitchPlaysPokemon is a hoot.
This “team” of Twitchers have accomplished much more than first expected, beating over half the game in what is thought to be a relatively short amount of time for the impossibility that it seems. This community has spread throughout the Internet to tell the story of this odd and unlikely occurance that is taking place on Twitch.
The most significant part of this stream is not just the popularity of it, but the sub-culture that it is creating. Inside jokes have appeared all over the Internet. One item of interest that has garnered the most attention is the Helix Fossil. The Helix Fossil has spawned a psuedo-religion/cult of sorts. While obviously not a serious belief, that has not stopped the “followers” of the “Cult of Helix” from making numerous Facebook pages celebrating the diety of the Helix Fossil, the one who guides the way to the Elite Four. The sheer amount of memes that have been birthed by this niche Internet audience is truly astounding. Articles on every gaming website have exploded and the attempt to keep the coverage of the stream up to date is astounding. Just like the memes and Internet sensations before it, I think it’s safe to say that TwitchPlaysPokemon has found its way into the history of the Internet. It’s not everyday that something so chaotic is so well embraced by a community, but when it is, it may be the most popular thing on the Internet for weeks.
Video by Paul Anderson