Twitch Plays Pokemon: First Encounters

As I mentioned in my first blog, I have had a love affair with Pokemon since I was a  kid, watching the anime series on CheeseTV in the morning, collecting the cards and playing both Pokemon Emerald and Leaf Green on my Nintendo GameBoy. Like many Aussie kids, I grew up with the franchise, and at the age of six or seven, was not really aware or interested in the how or why of Pokemon. I liked it because I liked it. End of story. Even as I have gotten older, I have never given too much thought to why the franchise has been so popular the world over, nor have I participated in much of the fandom surrounding the franchise. I want to document my first experience of Twitch plays Pokemon.

Chris sat down with me halfway through the week 2 tutorial to discuss my topic. I proceed to detail my long love affair with the old games and anime series when he interjected. “So you know the best thing to happen this past year is Twitch plays Pokemon?” I smiled quizzically, having never heard of Twitch. I thought Twitch was a person’s screen name. Chris leans over and begins to search YouTube for a PBS Ideas Channel video. “Watch this,” he said. I sat, at first puzzled, then intrigued, then completely agog as the Ideas Channel described something that sounded, in a word, awesome.

Once the clip ended I scraped my jaw off the desk and decide to check out Twitch first hand. The homepage reminded me a little of in the sense that it seems like an organised chaos, ideal for geeks and gamers to hang out, chat about trending topics in the gaming community with the addition of being able to participate in live events. I hit the search bar and click the first suggested post. It seemed Pokemon Red had been long completed, and the community were well underway in tackling Pokemon Stadium 2. I watched for a while as the chat window flashed constantly and the corresponding Pokemon (Gastly and Politoed) battled.


Screen Shot 2014-08-12 at 3.42.25 pm

I had a go at punching in some commands. It was insane, completely impossible to tell whether I was impacting the battle at all. Players were not only typing in commands, but also general comments on the gameplay. Out of the chaos a champion emerges and at this point class time is over. I closed my laptop feeling exhilarated and eager to explore Twitch plays Pokemon further.

Review and Analysis

Having had a few days to reflect on my first experience of Twitch plays Pokemon (TPP), and revisiting the TPP live game a few times since last week, I have had time to consider the who, why, and where of TPP. I’ll try and be brief!

An inquiry into why people play TPP would could be interesting. I’ve played multiple times since Chris first showed me the game last week, and to be quite honest, I’m not even sure why. I have little to no control over what is going on, due to having a slow internet connection at times, and the vast majority of people typing commands into the chat box means that my little input virtually gets lost the second I hit enter. I am not exactly sure whether the live game is such a great example or reflection of the true nature Pokemon fandom, nor does Twitch showcase the complexity and dedication of Pokemon fans. Sure, while the Twitch live game does seem to foster a sense of unity between fans as players from across the globe move the avatars towards an end goal, the same could be potentially be done with any other game. Twitch also hosts a number of other live games. I have tried several others with far fewer participants where it’s almost possible to see how I impact the gameplay, but these games are nowhere near as fun as the original, overcrowded TPP. Perhaps the people playing TPP are not all avid fans, but simply enjoy the the thrill of participating in such a monumental online event.  This is definitely something to consider researching further!

– Elle.


  1. This is a very interesting post. I never heard of Twitch plays Pokemon before but this look very interesting. I heard of Twitch from many Youtube channel i watched. I know that many Youtuber have a live stream on Twitch so that they can interact with their fans live. While i was searching for TPP, i found this interesting Twitch channel of fish playing Pokemon. What interest me is the fact that while i watching fish plays Pokemon, there are 3,700 people watching it live while TPP only have around 600 people watching it live. The website stated that the fish has been playing for around 170 hours and ‘made it out of the house! Before that, he had acquired his first Pokemon, a charmander named AAAABBK and defeated his first opponent, the rival’s squirtle!’


  2. TPP is fantastic! The chaos or ‘anarchy’ of it all is really telling of the digital world. The times i’ve visited the stream I just sat there trying to keep up with what is happening. As someone mentioned previously the new Fish Plays Pokemon is just as amazing.

    You mentioned that it was “completely impossible to tell whether I was impacting the battle at all”. For some reason every time I look at the comment stream i am reminded of that one overused quote from Blade Runner, “moments… will be lost in time, like [small cough] tears… in… rain” it’s like what you do never even matters, although there is satisfaction in knowing that the move that just beat Gary might have been you.


  3. Fantastic! You could use Twitch in your project in a number ways: as the research site investigating non-western games played on Twitch, or use Twitch by casting your own play to create a digital artifact focusing on your experience of Asian games and games genres…


  4. This post brought back many memories from my childhood, Elle. I had the GameBoy game and loved the cards – had hundreds of them. What a culture it created – a whole new language turned up at school, a whole new way to be included and excluded, depending on your exposure to the phenomenon. Regardless of this Pokemon crated a new world for millions of kids to enter and have fun in. Great entertainment – thanks for the memories.


  5. The aspect of TPP that interested me most during the original playthrough was the fan created lore. Players somehow managed to create their own religion, deities and villains just by watching a very slow and random game of Pokemon! I think what TPP really showed was not how people work together, but how some people tried to sabotage the game by releasing powerful Pokemon. In the end, the majority prevailed but it was interesting to see how if possible, not everyone will try to cooperate online.


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