Hawk Talk

Twitch Plays Pokemon: A Cooperative Challenge

By Danielle O’Brien

Playing a traditional game of Pokémon, Sophomore Amanda Collins decides which move she will make next. Amanda is just one of the thousands of people who have participated in "Twitch Plays Pokémon."

Playing a traditional game of Pokémon, Sophomore Amanda Collins decides which move she will make next. Amanda is just one of the thousands of people who have participated in “Twitch Plays Pokémon.”

Cooperation can be a difficult thing to get in a group of ten, five, or in many cases even among two people. However, imagine trying to make thousands people all over the world cooperate to reach one common goal. This was just the case in an online social experiment happening on popular video game streaming website Twitch.TV, known as “Twitch Plays Pokémon.”

The game being used in this experiment is Pokémon Red, one of the first Pokémon games released in 1995. The story of this game is about a boy who is on a journey to catch over 151 monsters spread throughout the land. He uses these “pocket monsters” to battle and at the end of the game become a champion Pokémon trainer. Though the main game was originally intended to be played by one person, an anonymous programmer modified the game to be played in a brand new way.  By being able to recognize commands typed by Twitch users in a chat room, “Twitch Plays Pokemon” was born. This cooperative system features two modes of game play known as Anarchy Mode and Democracy Mode.  Anarchy Mode uses all commands typed into the chat, while Democracy Mode uses a voting-based system to decide how the character will move. A majority vote determines which mode the game is played in.

There has been a split over which game mode is more efficient. In regards to Anarchy Mode, Junior Noah Wright exclaimed “It is a great concept and a big step in the right direction.” However, Sophomore Amanda Collins disagreed by stating Anarchy Mode takes way too much time, and referred to how it took almost six hours to cut down one tree blocking a path. “Anarchy is too chaotic,” argued Junior Jacqueline O’Brien, “It’s boring to see the character hit objects repeatedly.”

The opinions on Democracy Mode likewise illustrate this great division. Sophomore Amanda Collins stated “Things actually get done.” Junior Jacqueline O’Brien asserted “I prefer Democracy because it is orderly and allows players to coordinate better.” Junior Noah Wright stated he dislikes Democracy Mode due to feeling the controls aren’t interchangeable enough between players. “Democracy takes a long time,” remarked Senior Andrew Bornemann, “Less gets done because people vote for dumb options.”

Despite these battling opinions, playing a large cooperative game does indeed have an appeal. Junior Jacqueline O’Brien exclaimed she would love take part in such a large cooperative effort. Sophomore Amanda Collins stated she would take part in a large-scale game such as Twitch Plays Pokémon due to it despite being somewhat frustrating very interesting. Senior Andrew Bornemann called the idea “hilarious,” but said he would indeed play.

But does this social experiment truly say anything about human cooperation? Sophomore Amanda Grace Collins stated “It shows that’s its hard to get a huge group of people to agree on one thing. It is realistic in my eyes. Anything can happen no matter the number.” Junior Jacqueline O’Brien likewise argued her belief that the progress made in Pokémon Red on “Twitch Plays Pokemon” illustrates the possibility of large-scale cooperation.

One thing for sure, “Twitch Plays Pokémon” has indeed sparked interest in seeing what would happen with other games being played with such a large number of people attempting to cooperate. Junior Jacqueline O’Brien stated “I would love to see a cooperative play of other Pokemon games, along with the original Legend of Zelda.” Quite a few people additionally expressed interested in seeing modern games played in this fashion of “Twitch Plays”. Senior Andrew Bornemann exclaimed, “A ‘Twitch Plays Dark Souls’ would be fun,” and Sophomore Amanda Collins stated she would love to see a “Twitch Plays Skyrim.” With “Twitch Plays Pokemon”‘s popularity and the progress that has been made, more “Twitch Plays” definitely seem possible.

Sources

“TwitchPlaysPokemon.” Twitch. Twitch Interactive, Inc., n.d. Web. 06 Mar. 2014.

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