Twitch.tv is an offshoot of Justin.tv, a website that allows users to stream live content to their viewers. It’s popular for podcasters and YouTubers alike.
Twitch is similar, but the content centers on gaming.
What kind of gaming you might ask? All kinds. Right now for example, Twitch has been playing a version of Pokémon Red for fourteen days and counting.
It’s not just one person playing the game though. At times, upwards of 100,000 individuals are contributing to the gameplay from anywhere in the world. Over 32 million viewers have stopped by to check it out too. There is a live stream of the gameplay on the main screen and a chat feed to its right. Inside the chat, users can type anything they want, but when they type specific commands, they are telling Twitch what to do inside the game.
You might think that 100,000 players calling the shots would make the game difficult to get through… and you are correct. But, it makes for an entertaining watch for even just a few minutes at a time. You are seeing thousands of users working together to perform or prevent a simple task from happening such as… saving the game… or walking in one direction.
Within the script of the game’s creator are two modes – Anarchy and Democracy. While the game is going on, users can also vote for which mode the game will be in. When they are in democracy, users can vote on what the player will do rather than having everyone controlling him at once with any recognizable command they type.
Twitch Plays Pokémon is an example of the experiment that is the Internet. I’d even go as far to say that it is one of the better uses for the Internet today. Beyond disseminating critical information through news outlets and running necessary infrastructure, there is plenty of nonsense online. At first glance, Twitch Plays Pokémon seems like part of the nonsense, but it is way cooler and more interactive than much of what is online today. Tens of thousands of individuals can come together at the same time to play a role in a single scenario. At times they may troll each other or attempt to disrupt the gameplay itself, but they are still participating by doing so.
And… Twitch is just playing Pokémon Red so it’s completely harmless to troll Ash as he attempts to catch em all.
Somehow, after fourteen days, and thousands upon thousands of commands, Twitch has earned a handful of badges and he continues to soldier on. Check it out at Twitch.tv under Twitch Plays Pokémon. If you grew up playing the game, it’ll provide you with a quick laugh. If you didn’t grow up playing Pokémon, it will look like pure insanity. But, if you’re in that latter group, you can still take a step back and think about how connected and innovative we as users of the Internet can be.