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Thousands of Twitch viewers beat massively multiplayer 'Pokemon' game

Thousands of Twitch viewers beat massively multiplayer 'Pokemon' game

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After 16 days, the hive consciousness of Twitch Plays Pokemon has successfully beaten Pokemon Red. Early this morning, thousands of chat participants navigated through the final fight with Blue, a major milestone in a "social experiment" that has effectively turned into a huge crowdsourced gaming platform. Twitch Plays Pokemon, which launched on February 12th, translates chat text into button presses on a Game Boy emulator. The result was chaotic but surprisingly effective, and the number of players had risen to 35,000 within four days. Yesterday, players reached the endgame against the Elite Four— something the creator was initially dubious would happen. During the battle with Blue, viewership topped 100,000, though it didn't reach the overall peak of 120,000 from February 18th.

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Without some changes, the game may never have been won. In mid-February, the creator modified its controls to make it more "beatable," preventing trolls from spamming the start button and creating a "democracy" mode, which accepted only the most popular button presses rather than all of them. Twitch itself had to fix its chat system after it buckled under the strain of heavy Twitch Plays Pokemon usage. Company executives, however, have been more than happy with the success of the project, calling it "one of the most interesting things we've seen on Twitch since we launched."

Players, meanwhile, have evolved an arcane series of memes and religious factions. A central element is the Helix Fossil, which players went to great lengths to revive over the course of the game. Others have copied the massively multiplayer model with other games like The Legend of Zelda, and it's unlikely that members of the Twitch Plays Pokemon community will be content to stop with beating Pokemon Red. For now, a comprehensive timeline of the experiment is being updated here.