TwitchPlaysPokemon reach Saffron City! This is the most mesmerising thing you'll see today

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Maybe there is wisdom in the crowds? An intriguing videogame experiment in which thousands of people control the same Pokemon game simultaneously has – after four and a half days of play – reached Saffron City. Which is… surprisingly far in the game.

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TwitchPlaysPokemon is a super clever experiment – the controls for the original Pokemon Red for Game Boy have been wired up to the Twitch videogame streaming site’s chatroom – meaning that the thousands of people in the chat can influence the outcome of the game. To do this they simply have to send commands like “left” “right” “start” and so on.

It’s pretty mesmerising to watch – even if it does take an hour to successfully enter a Pokemon Centre and heal the team.

As you might imagine… it’s rather hectic, with the character (named Red in this play through) being sent conflicting controls by everyone, so progress has been very slow. Astonishingly though, after 110 hours of play over four days and 13 hours, the player hive-mind have managed to reach Celedon City – and achievement that requires at least three or four badges and is almost half way through the game.

Squad-wise the hive-mind hasn’t managed to assemble such a great Pokemon team – with an Oddish being one of the major players. There was one horrifying moment when I was watching the stream and they had an Eevee and a fire stone… yet rather than use it to evolve a Flareon, someone mischievous sent the “down” command and made the game throw the useful item away.

As a whole, it’s absolutely fascinating to see how people react working together on this – it reminds me of quantum physics, and how observed individually particles behave seemingly randomly, but observed as a whole, it is possible to observe meaningful outcomes.

So good luck Twitchers – we’ll see you at the Elite Four in… a week or so maybe?

James O’Malley
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