Something very interesting popped up on Twitch recently. The popular livestreaming site is playing host to a game of Pokemon Red/Blue played by the viewers.
That's right. Twitch is playing Pokemon! The game itself is run through a custom script that draws commands from Twitch's chat function, with thousands of players inputting commands to the game simultaneously.
The result? It's working better than you may think. At time of writing, the players have already accquired four gym badges, after three days of effort. Even if only a fraction of the 50,000 people currently watching are actively participating in the chat, that is still a staggering number of commands for the poor character Red to follow on his haphazard journey.
It is a fascinating social experiment, drawing in over 8 million total views over a three day period, and is still going strong. The anonymous broadcaster has shared why they decided that Pokemon was the perfect choice for this experiment, stating:
"SaltyBet incited my interest of automated Twitch streams with a heavy focus on viewer interaction. I thought that a collaborative attempt to complete a game would be entertaining to watch and participate in. Pokemon seemed like a natural choice due to its lack of reaction-demanding gameplay and very forgiving difficulty. When making it I didn't know if anyone would be interested, it was intended more as a proof-of-concept."
In response to the surprise success of the stream, Twitch's VP of marketing Matthew DiPietro has said that "This is one more example of how video games have become a platform for entertainment and creativity that extends WAY beyond the original intent of the game creator. By merging a video game, live video and a participatory experience, the broadcaster has created an entertainment hybrid custom made for the Twitch community. This is a wonderful proof on concept that we hope to see more of in the future."
So do we, Matthew. And if the popularity of Twitch Plays Pokemon is any indication, we'll certainly see more user-played games come to the surface in the coming weeks.