Twitch Plays Pokemon is a social experiment in collective gaming, where unknown players do their best to complete the game.

The concept of having multiple players working together in a single game isn’t a new one; for years, game developers have created games with co-opt modes, player versus player combat, and multiplayer parties. What would happen if instead of four players, there were hundreds of them, all controlling one character? That is the question that Twitch Plays Pokemon attempts to answer.

Hosted on the videogame streaming site Twitch, Twitch Plays Pokemon uses a program created by an anonymous Australian programmer that allows users to input commands such as A, B, Up, Down, Left, Right, or Start in the stream’s chat. From there, a specially designed program inputs commands into the game, which can often lead to the main character spinning around in circles.  Players in the first run through of the game, playing the original Red version, also allowed players to input “Anarchy” or “Democracy” to control how commands were recognized by the computer, depending on their frequency in the chat. Anarchy meant that all commands were valid and recognized while Democracy meant that only the most popular command inputted every 30 seconds would be used.

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