Twitch TV has a fascinating game of the first generation Pokémon going on in which thousands of players control the same character at the same time. Red has his motions controlled via chat room, and after receiving hundreds of commands a second, it’s amazing that poor Pokémon trainer has gotten anywhere at all.
Twitch has the game set up to a live feed from a Game Boy emulator and has it programmed so that the chat room commands translate into button pushes.
Griefers don’t want him to get anywhere. Players want to advance him to the Final Four and become the Pokémon Champion. His Pokémon all have ridiculous nicknames, and somehow, his Pidgey has survived to the point where it has become a full blown Pigeot, albeit with a horrible move selection.
Every once in a while, the hive steers him into a battle with another Pokémon, but spammers insist on him losing. Sand attack that Bellsprout to death and it might get you somewhere, I suppose. I wonder if the hive has what it takes to catch Mewtwo, because timing when to throw that ultra ball what hard enough in itself, let alone when thousands of people are sabotage your efforts at one time.
As of writing, a battle of nerves is going on between the griefers who have managed to access the TM30, which teaches the infamously useless Teleport move. Defenders are trying to save Drowzee the shame of being equipped with such a useless technique.
Twitch’s little experiment has turned Pokémon into something far greater than simply battling monsters and caching them to do your will. It has become strain between two factions who can’t communicate on how to progress nor really understand who is on what team. Victory doesn’t come through the Final Four or catching Mewtwo. Victory comes through the significantly smaller and meaningless actions of Pokémon: opening and closing the Pokedex, saving constantly, entering a building, talking to an NPC.
Griefers have the advantage in the long run because he can’t get anywhere. Defenders have the advantage for short victories because the B button simply closes everything.
Four days into the game, and Red is somehow in Cerulean City. He has just picked up a PP Up, the most exciting thing that has happened while writing this article, but the one of a kind Helix Fossil was discarded. Who will prevail in the end? Probably nobody, but it’s crazy to watch.