By Jeff Bond on March 2, 2014 at 12:06pm
In the wee hours of the morning, with 85,000 people watching, the social experiment that was Twitch Plays Pokemon was completed, and "RED" was introduced into the Hall of Fame.
For those unfamiliar with Twitch Plays Pokemon, let us explain why it's received such high scrutiny.
Pokemon Red was released in the US on Sept. 30, 1998 for the Nintendo GameBoy as a one-player role playing game. The game includes the main character, wild creatures to capture and battle, and foes with creatures of their own that stand in your way. The goal is simple but not easy to accomplish: capture and train a team of Pokemon to defeat eight gym leaders before a final battle against "The Elite Four".
On its own, this journey would take quite some time. However one anonymous Australian programmer had an idea for a social experiment. What would happen if he broadcast the game online using a website called Twitch, and let the Internet control the game by entering in commands via a chat window? On Feb. 12, 2014, the stream was launched, and it's popularity exploded. This 16 year old game was now a being controlled by an average of 80,000 people all trying to enter in commands 24/7.
Given enough time, a hypothetical chimpanzee typing at random would, as part of its output, almost surely produce one of Shakespeare's plays.
Against all odds, these players progressed through the game and achieved milestone after milestone. Along the way, the following grew and grew. The stream peaked around 120,000 people all watching and playing. By the end, the game had been viewed by over 32,000,000 people.
The fanfare behind this event spawned a huge online following. Every popular social media site had a community of people following the game's progress. Reddit has a community, /r/twitchplayspokemon, with over 94,000 subscribers, one of the fastest growing communities of all time on the site. Twitter was bombarded with every milestone reached and various terms and phrases from the stream were trending worldwide on a regular basis. Characters in the game were gaining cult followings. Countless pieces of fan art, video, music, shirts, and crafts have been created during this event. Some have even tried starting pseudo religions based on the two factions that grew between players. There were those who followed the Helix Fossil and embraced chaotic gameplay and those who followed the Dome Fossil who adhered to a more methodical, democratic approach.
For better or for worse, it looks like the hype train isn't about to slow down either. Upon completing the game, a timer appeared on the stream counting down to a new adventure which began just a few hours ago. This time: Pokemon Crystal.