The largest multiplayer Pokemon game is happening on Twitch right now

By translating chat commands into in-game movements and button inputs, more than 12,000 people are haphazardly steering the protagonist of the original GameBoy classic in a chaotic collective effort.

Screenshot by Nick Statt/CNET

In what can only be described as the best thing to happen to Valentine's Day, about 12,000 people are participating in a collective game of Pokemon Red on the live game-streaming service Twitch, all by simply typing in directions in the comment box in a messy frenzy. Not every single one of the viewers is mashing in commands of course, but because anyone with a Twitch account can comment on a public stream, any viewer is a potential player in this wacky experiment.

Believe it or not, the team effort has already gotten the group past the game's second of eight gym leaders with a level 28 Charmeleon. The stream has been live for nearly 46 hours now, and shows no signs of stopping anytime soon.

Bill's house. The participants of "Twitch Plays Pokemon" spent some serious time here trying to interact with the computer. Screenshot by Nick Statt/CNET

As of roughly 40 minutes ago, the group had successfully entered Bill's house in Cerulean City, where they spent a good chunk of time facing a wall while attempting to press A in front of the appropriate computer.

The mastermind behind the channel "Twitch Plays Pokemon" -- an Australian programmer who wishes to remain anonymous, according to an email exchange with Polygon -- has devised a way to translate live stream comments from any one of the thousands of viewers into game commands like A, B, Start, and Select for an emulated version of the classic GameBoy title. Only a select few commands are then fed to the sporadic character sprite onscreen likely through a form of aggregation. The feat is done with a mix of Python and JavaScript code and the VirtualBoyAdvance emulator.

Oftentimes, not much gets accomplished besides walking the character in circles and the constant opening and closing of menu screens. Still, that the channel's participants have managed to get as far as they have is astounding.

Twitch, which lets anyone sign up for free and broadcast their game screens to the public, has been growing tremendously of late, hitting more peak traffic than Facebook, Hulu, and Amazon according to a DeepField report published in The Wall Street Journal earlier this week. Twitch will only garner more attention with genius stunts like this.

Doing a little paper napkin math suggests that the stream, at almost 46 hours and two gym leaders down, may go on for roughly 10 to 14 days, given the extracurricular activity required by the game in between gym leaders and the end of the storyline. Well, onwards to the Elite Four, as they say.

Check out the madness below: Watch live video from TwitchPlaysPokemon on www.twitch.tv

Update at 3:20 p.m. PT: Added details regarding the channel owner.
 

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