And Now For Something Completely Different…

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This week we have no school and are free to spend it as we wish!

I have had a great week so far, as I have been trying to accomplish four tasks:

1. Play lots of tennis

Having been a varsity tennis player as a freshman, tennis used to be a huge part of my life. However, due to some major injuries and setbacks, I quit playing for a few years. I do want to play club tennis in college though, and so I’ve been trying to re-visit my favorite sport.

2. Join Planet Granite

This place is the coolest place ever. It’s a gigantic rock climbing gym and the walls are covered in places to climb. I just recently became a member and I’m excited to go back and try it out.

3. Watch a lot of movies

I’ve watched 10 so far!

4. Read Pride and Prejudice

Not too far into it, but I want to finish the book before I go off to England for Knight School. In England we will be doing a tour of locales where different authors lived. I took British Literature as my english class last year so I’ve read quite a few of the authors (Brontës, Dickens, Shakespeare, etc.) but I haven’t read any Austen. I decided that I would try to fix that before going on the trip.

While I have been making my way through my to-do list, I recently stumbled upon something absolutely crazy: “Twitch Plays Pokemon Red.” What this is is an interactive version of the 1998 Pokemon game that is being played by a mob of users, all inputting commands at the same time. What has resulted has been one of the most entertaining, hilarious, and frustrating things I’ve watched recently.

To clarify: there is only one game going on, but many different people all trying to play the game at once. It’s comparable to having a group of people all trying to fight for a video game controller at once.

And what a group of people it is… At the moment of writing this, there are currently 80,000 people all playing the game, and as of the start of the game, the live feed of the game being streamed has been viewed 20 million times. With 80,000 people all submitting commands at once, I’m surprised that the group has been able to make any sort of progress, but they have actually made it decently far, getting about halfway through the game in just over 8 days of playing time.

However, while they may have made some progress, it is important to keep in mind that they have spent 192 hours on the first half of a video game that has been designed to take 25 hours total. The quasi-random inputs coming from the players have made certain tasks difficult, and others near-impossible. For example, just recently, the mob was stuck on a ledge for 6 hours, and took a whopping 40 hours to make it through one of the more simple dungeons in the game. Needless to say, many angry comments have been made in the comment section, as the players are frustrated with fighting against themselves (and the numerous trolls who have tried to make the game absolutely impossible). To try to weed out the arguments, a new way to play the game was created, called “Democracy vs Anarchy.” Essentially, the game will either be in democracy mode or anarchy mode at any given time. Anarchy mode takes the commands as they come and performs them immediately, while democracy mode create 20 second windows for users to input commands, and then takes the most popular command from the 20 second window and performs it. Instead of weeding out arguments, a war has begun as players must “choose a side” between democracy and anarchy.

The game has been extremely difficult to say the least, but the 80,000 playing are optimistic, and there has been a very optimistic (and oddly religious and allegorical) narrative that has come about in the comment section, through fan art, and in the discussions on reddit where certain Pokemon have been labeled “Jesus,” “the false prophet,” “the lambs of God,” and “Satan.” It must be said that what these players lack in cohesion is certainly made up for in their enthusiasm.

I have very much enjoyed this re-visiting of my childhood days of playing Pokemon Red, and I wish the people playing the best of luck in what has been (insensitively) called “our generation’s Vietnam.”

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