PROTIP: Press 'i' to view the image gallery, 'v' to view the video gallery, or 'r' to view a random entry.
Twitch Plays Pokemon is an ongoing live-stream event hosted by the video-streaming platform Twitch in which any member of the site can participate in a massively multiplayer online co-op version of Nintendo’s 1996 role-playing video game Pokémon Red by inputting various commands in chat.
Within 72 hours of its launch, “Twitch Plays Pokemon” became a popular tag on Tumblr where various image macros were created about the events taking place in the game, and a dedicated subreddit and a Twitter feed were created for the stream. Meanwhile on 4chan, the channel became a controversial topic when mods began deleting threads about the stream on every board, before eventually allowing threads originally only on /vp/, and then on all boards. On Reddit, a page has been compiled listing every notable event over the course of the game.
News Media Coverage
Inspired by the success of Twitch Plays Pokemon, many others on Twitch began creating similar streams. Many streams were made for different Pokémon games, such as Blue Version, Crystal Version, and FireRed Version. A stream was made where the actions in Twitch Plays Pokemon would simultaneously control a game of Tetris. A stream known as RNG Plays Pokemon also had Red Version, but the character was controlled by an RNG randomly selecting buttons.
Note: Some of these channels may be temporarily offline.
- Twitch Plays Pokemon Plays Tetris
- Twitch Plays The Legend of Zelda
- Twitch Plays Super Mario Bros
- Twitch Plays QWOP
- Twitch Plays Pacman
- Twitch Plays Final Fantasy VII
- Twitch Plays Earthbound
- Twitch Plays Cookie Clicker
- Twitch Plays Doom
- Twitch Plays Runescape
- Twitch Plays Digimon
Memes and In-Jokes
Due to the large volume of chat commands being input at once, random selection of items quickly became a common occurrence during battles, especially the second item in the player’s bag, the Helix Fossil. This item appeared on screen so frequently that it came to be viewed as an object of worship and guidance by TwitchTV users. Other items treated this way were the Moon Stone, Nugget, and S.S. Ticket.
The players eventually managed to revive the Helix Fossil into an Omanyte, which was subsuquentally dubbed “Lord Helix.”
Ledges are common obstacles in Pokémon games which can be passed through on one side, but not on the other. At one point in the game there is a long ledge with only one unit of space to walk past it; thus, even a single person giving a “down” command would cause the player to go through the ledge, requiring the character to backtrack and try again. Due to the large number of trolls in the stream, it took multiple hours to get past a single ledge, causing ledges to be viewed as large obstacles by the viewers, even though they are usually minor nuisances in normal Pokémon games.
Trees are another common type of obstacle in Pokémon games. In the first generation of Pokémon games, trees can be removed by going to the menu and selecting a Pokémon that can use the move Cut while facing the tree. Due to the large number of commands needed to achieve this and the lack of coordination among the Twitch users, trees became notorious for being extremely difficult to get past. One particular tree took multiple hours to remove.
There was a large argument in the chat about whether or not to get the Pokémon Eevee (shown below, left). Doing so would have been a risky move, as it would necessitate evolving it to Vaporeon (below, center) in order to have a Pokémon that could learn Surf. This would require the viewers to successfully buy and use a Water Stone without wasting all the player’s money. If this failed, something would need to be deposited in the PC in order to get Lapras (below, right), another Pokémon that could learn Surf, which would risk accidentally releasing a high-level Pokémon.
Despite the obvious downsides to doing so, the majority of users chose to get Eevee. They then failed to buy a Water Stone, accidentally buying a Fire Stone and evolving Eevee into Flareon. After going to the PC to deposit it, they accidentally released “ABBBBBBK(” (a.k.a. Abby) the Charmeleon and “JLVWNNOOOO” (a.k.a. Jay Leno) the Rattata. They also put Pidgeot, the highest-level Pokémon on the team, and the Helix Fossil into the PC, although both were later retrieved. Because the source of all this was Eevee, it soon became known as a “false prophet” and servant of the Dome Fossil, an item that was viewed as Satan. A day later, Flareon was released as well. Four days later, the stream acquired a Lapras nicknamed AIIIIIIRRR, thus having a Pokémon that could learn Surf, and ending the debate.
Team Rocket Hideout Maze
One of the areas the player must get through in the game is the Team Rocket Hideout, a four-floor underground complex used by the villains. Inside the compound is a maze floored with tiles that propel the player in a certain direction, which can be cleared only by advancing from one tile to the next in a very specific route, otherwise the player would end up where it started. Once again, due to the heavy volume of requests, worsened by lags lasting up to 20 seconds, any coordination became nearly impossible and the maze has proven to be even more difficult than the ledge. Twitch users spent a full 24 hours attempting to clear the maze the first time before the streamer implemented a voting system to schedule actions in an order, which finally allowed them to get through the maze.
Anarchy vs. Democracy / Start9
After failing to clear the Team Rocket Hideout puzzle after 24 hours, the streamer implemented a voting system where it would count up all the commands entered, and after 30 seconds take the action which was entered most often. It also included a slider for “anarchy” or “democracy” which could be influenced by entering one of the words into the chat. Anarchy was the mode it was in previously (all inputs registered by the game) and democracy was the new mode (most commonly-input action in 30 seconds is carried out).
The democracy mode was widely viewed as slowing down progress, taking away the excitement, and generally ruining the fun of the game. Because democracy mode allowed users to input several actions at once, supporters of anarchy mode began saying “start9”, which would open and close the menu 9 times. This was meant as a form of protest against democracy mode. Democracy mode was even opposed by the Twitch staff: Twitch moderators began saying “start9” as well, and the official Twitch Twitter account tweeted a message in support of anarchy mode with an emoticon reference to Raise Your Dongers. The Twitch staff even later adjusted the voting system so that anarchy could be obtained easier.
ヽ༼ຈل͜ຈ༽ﾉ ANARCHY OR RIOT ヽ༼ຈل͜ຈ༽ﾉ http://t.co/fbrv5bk9TH— Twitch (@TwitchTV) February 18, 2014
In the run of Pokémon Crystal, democracy mode is automatically implemented every hour, and in order to switch back, a majority of the votes in a voting period needs to be for anarchy.
The Great Battle of Destiny
Prior to the capture of Zapdos, a popular Twitch user by the name “Destiny” had plans to sabotage and raid the playthrough by getting his followers to assist him spamming democracy so they could release Bird Jesus (Pidgeot), the party’s powerhouse Pokémon. The plan did eventually fail fairly quickly without much effect, but still managed to cause fear in the Twitch community should it have succeeded.
After successfully capturing Zapdos from the Power Plant, the community went to the PC to retrieve the newly captured Pokémon. This however required them to first deposit a different Pokémon into the PC before they could retrieve Zapdos. During the process, the chaos caused by anarchy mode resulted in the deposit of important party Pokémon into the PC, including Pidgeot, and the release of 12 Pokémon. This event which would later be known as “Bloody Sunday”.
Despite the high amount of released Pokémon, the community did eventually manage to retrieve Zapdos and Pidgeot from the PC and avoided releasing other important Pokémon such as Lapras.
“Guys, we need to beat Misty”
Most major media outlets did not begin reporting on Twitch Plays Pokemon until after the second gym leader, Misty, had already been beaten. Therefore, a majority of people joined after Misty was beaten as well. Due to not having seen the battle, the newcomers believed she had not been defeated yet, and would often tell the chat to go beat her. This was said so frequently, that many began saying “Guys, we need to beat Misty” sarcastically to make fun of the people who joined late.
The phrase gained major popularity in the chat when an image started circulating claiming that the ROM which the streamer was using was a hack which would allow the player to fight Misty again, and once defeated she would give the player a Togepi egg. Thus, “Guys, we need to beat Misty” was spammed in the chat very often, both sarcastically and seriously.
Fan Given Roles
With each new major addition to the player’s party comes a role created by fans. Many of these roles center around the religion-like following certain objects and Pokémon in the game have gotten, most commonly the Helix Fossil. Bird Jesus is the most widely known nickname and belongs to the party’s Pidgeot “aaabaaajss.” Its role of being the powerhouse of the team has made it an object of praise and worship. Other well known nicknames are Drowzee “The Keeper,” responsible for keeping Flareon at bay, and “Lord Helix,” the later revived Helix Fossil which was already dubbed as a deity.
In the second game, the starter, Totodile, became known for his move leer, which in generation 2 looked as if the user was using lasor beams, thus being named Lasorgator. Another nickname given was when we caught another Pidgey, who was in the beginning named Bird Jesus 2, but was later changed to Brian, a reference to the movie, The Life of Brian.
After 16 days, 7 hours, 45 minutes, and 30 seconds of continuous play, and on their 17th attempt, the Twitch users finally defeated the Elite Four and Blue, finishing the game. The successful attempt was recorded and can be viewed in the video below:
Once the game ended, a timer began counting down from 25 hours. At 12:00 UTC, the game restarted, but as a new game, Pokémon Crystal. The main character for that game was AJDNNW, often nicknamed AJ or Andrew.
During the main adventure in Johto, the mainly strong pokemon in the party was Feraligtr, the starter pokemon. Some people thought it would be a better idea to release Feraligtr and train everyone else, or release everyone. This group tried often but currently to no avail.
Twitter News Feed
The Independent – Twitch Plays Pokémon is ‘like watching a car crash in slow motion’
Financial Post – Twitch Plays Pokémon a wild experiment in crowd sourced gameplay