Sometimes, great ideas come along, and in this internet age they gain rapid traction, circumnavigate the globe, and are interacted with by hundreds of thousands of people. Great things have been done this way. This is not one of those things. Over 14 million people have gathered on the twitch channel, TwitchPlaysPokemon to watch, or take part in the most bizarre, interesting and at times infuriating gaming experiment in a long time. The concept is simple; 1996 edition of Pokemon Red for the gameboy is being streamed with the goal of completing the game. Easy enough. However, no one person is playing. In fact nearly 400,000 people have played. And how does this work, you ask? Well I’d argue it doesn’t really, but gosh darn is it amusing to watch.
The twitch chat has become the controller, allowing viewers to input commands into the chat for the character, Red. As you might imagine, there is naught but chaos, yet miraculously, progress has been made. At the time of writing, the game has been running for six days and 12 hours. Thus far, they have beaten four gyms (somehow managing to coordinate Lt. Surges’ button puzzle), they have traversed Rock Tunnel and Mt.Moon, and though it took over 24 hours, beat the Rocket Hideout in Saffron City.
Naturally, with six and a half days on their hands, a lot of fan art and lore has been generated surrounding the game, most notably with the The Helix God. In the early stages of the game, having picked up the Helix Fossil in Mt. Moon, the anarchy of the chat commands led to the player character, constantly reaching into the item backpack and producing the Helix Fossil to no effect, both in battle and in the outside world. This led players to believe that they were in fact consulting the fossil for guidance, and that all would become clear with the Helix God’s command.
As for the pokemon themselves, they currently have five in the party, each have been given out of game nicknames on the subredddit surrounding the game. The leader of the team is the currently level 48 Pigeot, affectionately known as ‘Bird Jesus’, seeing as he’s about the only effective pokemon in the group. The others are a level 22 Oddish, known as ‘The Seed of Hope’, a level 16 Rattata called ‘Dig Rat’, a level 21 Farfetch’d ‘The Slayer of Trees’, and a 19 Drowzee, who’s time in Bill’s PC earned him the title of ‘The Keeper’. A name he garnered from holding back ‘The False Prophet’ Flareon at bay. Obviously.
Unsurprisingly this has gained phenomenal attention online, being reported on by the BBC and The Huffington Post, transcending your average gaming news piece. It is unclear how long it will take for the game to be completed, could be days, could be weeks, but someone, somewhere will still be playing. So says our lord and saviour, The Helix God.