From Chaos to Meaning: Twitch Plays Pokemon
Something marvelous is happening. Twitch Plays Pokemon is a video game stream where the collective rules. Click on the link for more details, but it basically boils down to thousands upon thousands of people all trying to get their hand on the controls of Pokemon Red/Blue and play at the same time. The results range from incredibly frustrating and tedious, to hilarious and strangely gratifying.
What’s delightful about this chaotic play-through is the meaning people are deriving from it. Just search “Twitch Plays Pokemon” on tumblr for the fascinating results. Because of the structure of the game, certain actions are repeated or objects fixated upon.
Players checking the Helix Fossil all the time due to the game’s storage arrangement? Clearly it’s important! The only trusty pokemon is a Pidgeot? Clearly it is our Lord and Saviour Bird Jesus.
Twitch Plays Pokemon is basically a mass meme generator, players and spectators alike attributing meaning to the chaos of the system they inflict upon themselves. It illustrates again that one cannot ‘make’ memes: they are born, not made. But Twitch Plays Pokemon shows you can at least create an event with the right circumstances to create lasting meaning. In this case, one way is to get plenty of internet savvy people together through a “innovative” play system of a classic, nostalgic object. What kind of meaning will emerge is left to chaos.