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Democracy/Anarchy in Action: Twitch Plays Pokémon Changes up Rules With New Voting System


In case you missed it over the weekend, the new hotness on the Internet is Twitch Plays Pokémon: a “social experiment” in which a rom of Pokémon Red is hooked up to a chatroom that lets users move by typing the name of the button they want to press. Naturally, they haven’t gotten very far, so the creator decided to shake things up with a new system.

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Previously, the system would automatically implement any order given to it by the chat, which made for a lot of weird back and forth actions that had nothing to do with anything. Want to release your strongest pokémon in the wild for no good reason? Consult the helix fossil 40 times in a row just for funsies? Try using a moon stone during a battle even though it won’t do anything? The world was quite literally your oyster to troll.

This mode can still be used, but now it has a new name: Anarchy mode. Democracy mode, the new gameplay system, allows users to work together with one another by attempting to vote actions into… well, action. Rather than a thousand people screaming GO LEFT or RIGHT at each other and hoping the computer will listen to them, Democracy mode tallies up every command that the users make and then chooses to perform the highest-voted one.

You can also input a number of actions at once using a more complex number system — “right” will move you one space to the right, but “right4” will move you four spaces. As stated in the official instructions for the stream, “In order to switch from one mode to the other, the mode that isn’t active needs 75% of votes as indicated by the dotted line, the current percentage of votes is indicated by the black line.” This can be found on the top right of the screen at all times and is tougher to switch back and forth than you’d think.

Democracy isn’t exactly popular with everyone just yet, of course. Sure, those who are interested in actually making some sort of progress in the game are on board with it; though slower, it ultimately appears to be better for mazes and other trickier maps that need precision, but Anarchy is definitely the more fun one to watch, even when the game is going nowhere.

“The point wasn’t to figure out how to successfully navigate the game, it was to hook the game up to a stream and see what happens. If the end result is 15 days in the arrow maze, so fucking be it, that’s the way it went,” one Redditor complained. Others have also argued that Democracy mode makes it more difficult to engage with the alternate narrative that had cropped up around the game as well (the Church of Helix, for example), and that the spontaneous bad decisions that cropped up as a result of Anarchy mode are what made the feed compelling to watch in the first place. On the other hand, if the game did get completely stuck at every difficult puzzle, that narrative might have stalled completely.

At the time of writing, the feed is up to 83,000 current viewers and over 9,898,000 total views (Twitch says that only about 300,000 of those are unique, though), and the team is four badges in—around where you’re supposed to defeat Giovanni in Team Rocket’s hideout. You can track the game’s progress with this handy Google doc, as well as the Twitter account and Subreddit.

(via Twitch Plays Pokémon)

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