UPDATE: 2/17/14 11:30AM PST
Three days after it started, the Twitch Plays Pokemon stream is only getting stronger. Against seeminly impossible odds, the stream now has four badges under their belt, and over 70,000 people are currently watching. Even if just a relatively conservative 10% of those people are actively taking part in the chat, that's still 6k people trying to lead Red on his journey to become a Pokemon Master.
Responding to the the surprise success of the stream, Twitch's VP of marketing Matthew DiPietro wrote the following in a message to GameSpot, "This is one more example of how video games have become a platform for entertainment and creativity that extends WAY beyond the original intent of the game creator. By merging a video game, live video and a participatory experience, the broadcaster has created an entertainment hybrid custom made for the Twitch community. This is a wonderful proof on concept that we hope to see more of in the future."
The broadcaster chooses to remain anonymous, but he did share how the channel works. "I wrote a script in Python that listens for buttons said in chat and simulates a keypress for the corresponding button in the emulator. The script also outputs button presses to a locally-hosted website which provides the overlay. I use Open Broadcaster Software to merge the website and emulator output into a video feed that gets sent off to Twitch.
"SaltyBet incited my interest of automated Twitch streams with a heavy focus on viewer interaction. I thought that a collaborative attempt to complete a game would be entertaining to watch and participate in. Pokemon seemed like a natural choice due to its lack of reaction-demanding gameplay and very forgiving difficulty. When making it I didn't know if anyone would be interested, it was intended more as a proof-of-concept.
"I didn't have any expectations of how people would interact with the stream, but I was very curious. I thought most people would play around with it for a few minutes and leave but it's very engrossing to a surprising amount of people. I never planned on this many viewers/players so I'm glad that it's holding up as well as it is."
The original story appears below.
Here's a neat way to spend Valentine's Day if you're all alone (or just because you want to). Over on video streaming site Twitch right now you can take part in a crazy cool concept called "Twitch Plays Pokemon."
An intelligently designed emulator allows viewers to input text commands like A, B, Start, and Select, which in turn control what happens in Pokemon Red/Blue. The video has been live for nearly 48 hours and viewers have, miraculously, already beaten the first gym and have a level 23 Pidgeotto.
There are currently more than 7,000 viewers on "Twitch Plays Pokemon," and the chat is ablaze with commands. It's a wonder to see in action, and simply proves that there are even more ways to enjoy 15-year-old video games.