Twitch Plays Pokémon — the fascinating social experiment described as the "fight for the soul of the internet" — has entered a new phase.
Twitch Plays Pokémon kicked off on 12 February, having been designed by an anonymous Aussie programmer. The original intent was to see whether a single-player video game could be played by crowd-sourcing the button commands, and the 1998 Game Boy classic Pokémon Red was the title chosen to test such an effort.
Using an IRC chat bot set up by the channel creator, players have been typing button commands into the Twitch stream's comment box in an effort to control the main character of the game. The response has been incredible: over the two and a half weeks since it started, the stream has garnered more than 35 million views with active viewers ranging from 50,000 to peaks of nearly 120,000. Estimates put total player participation at more than 650,000 Twitch users.
Things got completely bizarre when the Anarchy and Democracy modes were introduced after the first week.
Anarchy mode retained the game's original makeup in which a free-for-all of user-supplied button inputs was used to sporadically control the character. Democracy, on the other hand, was a true voting system that was slow but cautious. Switching between modes was also handed over to the crowd, with a supermajority needed to go from anarchy to democracy and a simple majority required to revert back.
Finally, nearly 400 hours since the game began, the crowd prevailed, with the Elite Four and Champion defeated. In total, it took 1,165,140 people entering chat commands to beat the game in 16 days, 7 hours, 45 minutes, and 30 seconds. More than 122 million commands were issued. More than 36 million people watched the stream overall, hitting a peak of 121,000 simultaneous viewers.
Twitch Plays Pokémon isn't resting on its laurels. A new game has already started — this time it's Pokémon Crystal. More than 70,000 people tuned in for the start of the game and, currently, the core gameplay system remains the same, with a slightly tweaked Anarchy versus Democracy dynamic.
"It's safe to say that Twitch Plays Pokémon has been the biggest cultural phenomenon to strike Twitch all thanks to The Creator and You, our passionate and absolutely preposterous community," Twitch said on its official blog.