A strange online experiment ended on Saturday when nearly 1.1 million video game players collectively beat Pokemon Red after 390 hours of game-time.
Pokemon Red was the original game in the Pokemon video-game franchise, first appearing on Gameboy in 1998. In the game, players attempt to catch and train all 150 Pokemon and defeat other Pokemon “trainers.”
TwitchPlaysPokemon has been the Internet’s most persistent memes over the past three weeks, as users played a streamed version of the 1998 Gameboy game on Twitch, the popular video streaming platform.
Twitch allows people to watch each other play video games via livestream. It is quickly becoming a juggernaut, ranking fourth in U.S. Internet traffic, behind only Netflix, Google, and Apple.
To play TwitchPlaysPokemon, users input commands — up, down, left, right, a, b, and start — into the chatbox. At its peak, more than 100,000 users were inputting commands at the same time. The ensuing chaos resulted in a cult following and has spawned an entire culture of memes, language, literature, and even a religion.
And the game lives on. Twitch has officially moved on to Pokemon Crystal, the sequel to Red. You can join in on the action here.
We sifted through the aftermath to find the weirdest things that have happened so far:
1. In the beginning, the game was run by a system called Anarchy that processed every single command from the group in order. It resulted in tons of duplicate moves and allowed trolls to input commands that could derail entire battles. It was a mess.
2. Users made thousands of GIFS to show the ridiculousness of what was happening.
3. Early on, they picked up the Helix Fossil, an item used towards the end of the game to revive an “extinct” Pokemon. Despite being useless early in the game, the item was clicked on constantly.
4. Because of the persistence of the item, users adopted it as a religion to get things done. Tons of memes were spawned and users routinely invoked the “Helix Fossil” as the reason to band together.
5. The team’s best Pokemon was a Pidgeot, which they dubbed Bird Jesus. Bird Jesus and the Helix Fossil formed the basis for the increasingly elaborate religious dogma.
6. Players went nuts when the Helix Fossil was finally revived into the extinct Pokemon Omanyte.
7. The Anarchy system finally failed when the team got stuck for hours in “The Safari Zone,” a confusing part of the game map that limits the number of “steps” a character can take.
8. To solve the issue, the developer introduced a new system called Democracy. Users vote for the next move and, after 10 seconds, the move with the greatest number of votes wins. The Internet immediately revolted. Users spammed the Start9 command, which repeatedly sends the character to the Start menu, preventing any movement and crashing the system.
9. The team eventually concocted coordinated strategies using a GoogleDoc to overcome the limitations of the Anarchy/Democracy system.
10. Even so, chaos was constant. One time, they released their best Pokemon for no reason.
11. Somehow they won through sheer perseverance.