The massively multiplayer game began Wednesday, February 12 on website Twitch TV. Twitch Interactive, Inc. is a video platform and online community that allows gamers to connect with each other via live broadcasts and the website's chat feature.
Twitch Plays Pokémon was a social experiment that enabled thousands of people to play Nintendo's Pokémon Red in one shared game. The site's chat feature was used to input the commands -- up, down, left, right, select, start, and 'a' and 'b' -- used to control the game. Gameplay was often slow and awkward with so many in control of only one player -- over 120,000 different people were issuing commands simultaneously at one point during the game. Onlookers tuned into the live stream over thirty-six million times during the organized chaos.
Participants saw victory on Saturday when the players defeated the game's Elite Four Pokémon trainers after sixteen days of play. Over 120 million commands were issued during the game's duration.
The anonymous Australian programmer who created the channel on Twitch told Polygon, "I...wanted to put it up to see how people would respond." The person said that the original Pokémon was chosen for its "turn-based gameplay, forgiving nature and its lack of reaction-based gameplay (which isn't compatible with [twenty seconds-plus] of Twitch Lag)." They also expressed a "strong nostalgia for the first two generations of Pokémon."
The experiment was so successful that Twitch started another game online on Sunday morning. People can participate in or watch players take on Pokémon Crystal right now on the Twitch Plays Pokémon website. The current game already has over 40 million views.