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Twitch Plays Pokemon creator tweaks channel to make game more 'beatable'

Michael McWhertor is a journalist with more than 17 years of experience covering video games, technology, movies, TV, and entertainment.

As the number of people taking part in Twitch Plays Pokémon — the livestreamed, Twitch chat-driven playthrough of Pokémon Red — has grown to more than 80,000 active players, the creator of the channel has made a few technical additions to make the game more "beatable."

Since launching Twitch Plays Pokémon last week and amassing more than 16 million views, the creator added a start button throttle, making the experience more playable. Without those spammed start button inputs, Twitch Plays Pokémon players are making better progress instead of battling trolls.

"Spammers pushed this button too much and now it doesn't work all the time," the creator explained. "Sometimes it pops back in and works perfectly for awhile. I dislike this compromise but unsuppressed start spam was annoying and didn't really have any effect on travel gameplay (no position changes)."

The Twitch channel also now features a voting system, allowing players to vote to put the game into one of two modes: anarchy or democracy. Anarchy mode inputs chat-based commands immediately, while democracy mode lets users vote on inputs and allows players to chain together commands. Democracy allows the collective to make more controlled movements, as opposed to the randomness of the original anarchy mode.

"It's to make the game beatable without modifications," the channel's creator tells Polygon. "I didn't want to babysit the stream and nerf the game. I'd rather the game be beaten on its own terms (even if it is a romhack)."

The creator says they initially planned only to include the new democracy mode, but called it "a very bad idea."

"I came up with the idea to make it toggle-able by supermajority vote," they said. "I wish I came up with it a little earlier. It has worked surprisingly well but I'm thinking of making it a little harder to change modes. I find both the modes interesting to watch in their own way and I think the divisiveness of the community is exciting.

"I especially like how spamming one's opinion ad nauseum has a tangible effect on something, you don't get that on the Internet a whole lot, plus you can see it in (near) real-time!"

Right now, the channel's creator says they don't have plans to add any other new features designed to enable progress. Slowly but surely, and less chaotically, players are making headway. On the channel's sixth day, players defeated the trainer Giovanni, acquired the Silph Scope and bested the Fighting Gym. As it powers through its seventh, democracy is holding steady as players fight to maintain order, and cooperation appears to be moving the game closer to completion.

For more on Twitch Plays Pokémon, read our original interview with the channel's creator and catch the latest episode of Friends List, in which we ask "What the hell is Twitch Plays Pokemon?"

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