Listen to Luke

From whispers all across the corners of the internet, there is much discussion about a new event happening-Twitch Plays Pokemon. It’s the best thing to grace the internet since .gifs (obviously pronounced “jifs”).

For all you head-scratchers yelling at this page, “The heck is a twitch?” you may want to pay attention to this next part. Twitch is a website (www.twitch.tv) that allows users to do live streams of whatever they want. Mostly, it’s used for watching people video games in real time. As the kids these days say, “Pretty sick, right?”

Pretty sick, indeed.

Well, some anonymous person set up some code to let the viewers of one particular stream play the game they’re watching. On a ROM of Pokemon Red, people input button commands (up, down, left, right, a, b, start) and the program makes the in-game character perform them. The fun part is, literally anyone can play.

Don’t believe me? Open one of those new-fangled windows and go to www.twitch.tv/twitchplayspokemon. Create an acount and type in a comment command. Wait about twenty seconds, then see as your input flies by the screen.

With the audience of about 32 million viewers (at one point in time), things can become pretty hectic. To increase stability, the stream has a 20-30 second delay between typing out your command and executing it. With large groups of people trying to achieve the same goal, interesting things happen.

When a bunch of people want the character to move up, oh let’s say three spaces, maybe five hundred up commands are sent in. This overshoots the target position by a lot. Progress is slow, to say the least. But, somehow, progress is made! Check out this pivotal battle to see what I’m yapping about.

It’s not all peaches and daisies, however. There exist a large troop of trolls. People who delight in nothing more than watching TPP (Twitch Plays Pokemon) suffer. They are the ones who spam unhelpful, or even harmful, buttons that mess up the progress. But that is part of the beauty. Because progress is somehow made despite all the jerks.

One of the best parts about all of this is the community. They have taken to putting a story to this madness. The story correlates to certain behaviors or actions taken in the game. Early on, we kept attempting to use the Helix Fossil (an item in the game that can’t be used until very far in the game) in vain. So the community dubbed the Helix Fossil as their patron deity. It’s all very silly and very humorous, but still endearing, like toy poodles.

So, let’s say you load the website what do you see? A video and a comments section is shown, for starters. The video is split into two parts, the action and the commands. Commands are the button inputs and, if I have to tell you what the action is, you’d better stop reading now.

About a week or two ago, TPP completed the first ever Pokemon game. We then embarked on a second generation game. It is expected that TPP will continue until every main Pokemon game is cleared. At that point, it’s anyone’s guess at what will happen. I can’t see it shutting down completely due to its fanbase. Perhaps we will replay the series over and over?

All in all, it’s created it’s own culture and cult following. Memes have sprung up at an alarming rate. It’s pure fun and a neat experiment, which is to see if a ton of players can finish the game together.

If you Listen to Luke, you’ll give this website a shot. I mean, I’ve had it up while I wrote this column. Up up left a down start a a b.

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