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The 24-hour Pokémon Sword and Shield stream is spooky

The livestream is holding steady at over 20,000 viewers — many of whom get startled every time a new noise is heard

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A Pikachu — a yellow, electric,  and mouse-like creature — appears in a dark forest
The Pokémon Company/Nintendo
Nicole Carpenter is a senior reporter specializing in investigative features about labor issues in the game industry, as well as the business and culture of games.

Mushrooms grow along the Galar region’s forest floor. Heavy tree coverage leaves the forest dark, illuminated only by the faint glow of its green and yellow mushrooms. I can hear the static of rushing water in the distance, broken only by the shrill of a chime. The 24-hour Pokémon Sword and Shield broadcast screen could easily be mistaken for a still image, only dust-like wisps floating around the screen. There is the promise of something happening, but the image has stayed largely unmoving.

And so for most of the day, I’ve had the stream pulled up on my TV screen, an unnerving version of “lo-fi beats to chill to” that scares my pants off every time something changes. I’ve had the stream on since it began more than six hours ago, so the regular sounds may as well be silence to me — silence that is broken with a shatter every time a Pokémon cries. This happens every half hour or so; so far we’ve heard Morelull and Phantump, among others. Occasionally, Pokémon will creep out from the brush before darting back behind cover. We’ll hear rustling bushes — then nothing.

But each time the piercing cries ring out, I spill whatever I’m drinking and Twitch chat goes nuts. Twitch chat gets startled — and posts plenty of pogchamp emotes — whenever something happens, interrupting the memes and jokes that fill up all the waiting time. Here are the biggest things that have happened so far:

  • Pikachu showed up
  • Morellul, Shiinotic, Phantump, and Cottonee appeared
  • A Pokémon with a big white and pink tail ran by, perhaps a new species
  • Impidimp became a meme sensation

Because there is a lot of downtime, Pokémon fans have taken to memes, the best of which include Impidimp dipping out of the Sword and Shield stream and Untitled Goose Game references. (My third favorite joke is a conspiracy theory that Sonia — granddaughter and assistant to Sword and Shield’s professor — set up the camera incorrectly and all the Pokémon are just ... on the other side.)

There are still around 17 hours left to the livestream, and I’m sure there will be plenty more Pokémon making their way into frame. After all, we can’t expect The Pokémon Company to give away all the best stuff before we even get to the halfway mark. You can watch the rest of the Sword and Shield stream on Polygon.

Pokémon Sword and Shield will be released Nov. 15 for Nintendo Switch.

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