Group projects are rarely awesome. But thousands of gamers became the exception Saturday after banding together for more than two straight weeks to beat a single-player video game one command at a time.
The social experiment called "Twitch Plays Pokemon" was created by an Australian developer nearly two weeks ago. The anonymous developer livestreamed a game of Pokemon Red for Game Boy, and players controlled the character by typing commands like a, b, up, down, start and select into a chat log.
The developer said on the Twitch site the experiment was created "to test the viability of this format, the way people interact with the input system and the way they interact socially with each other."
According to CNN, the game was played out using two different modes: Democracy and Anarchy. The former would choose the most popular commands to input into the game, while the latter applied all commands immediately — all bajillion of them.
As you can imagine, thousands of people all trying to control the same character at once made progress almost impossible — but somehow Twitch users managed to navigate their way through the entire game.
A writer at CNET says, "Progress was slow ... but it was always astounding to see a complex task accomplished by the group in real time and the subsequent eruption of jovial celebration in the comment box."
And at the beginning of this weird social experiment, not even the founder expected the players to beat the final bosses. He told Polygon, "I'd like to see the Elite Four [trainers] beaten but I have my doubts about it being possible without much better coordination."
But 390 hours, or a little more than 16 days later ... Not bad, Internet. Not bad at all.
But those following the action saw more than just a ton of commands resulting in a shared victory. They saw the Internet do some Internet-y kind of things.
A writer for JoyStiq compared the experiment to the infinite monkey theorem, which basically states an infinite number of monkeys with an infinite number of typewriters could make Shakespearean text. Jane Goodall would be proud. (Via Yale University)
We didn't quite get that, but the Internet did manage to create a pseudo-religious narrative surrounding some of the Pokemon. One Redditor whipped up this hieroglyphic-like "tablet", which should give you an idea of how seriously people took this. (Via Reddit / whoaconstrictor)
Although the most recent adventure is over, the creator told reporters he's received request to continue with the Pokemon franchise. He said he'll continue running the stream as long as there's an interest.
The developer hasn't revealed which game will be next, but there is a countdown timer on the stream ticking down to when the next adventure begins.