Twitch Played Pokemon: A Look Back

After 16 days and over 36 million views, Red and Twitch have become Pokemon Champions!

After 16 days and over 36 million views, Red and Twitch have become Pokemon Champions!

Some of us thought the ride would never end. Some of us never wanted it to. But in the early hours of March 1st, 2014, Blue’s Blastoise fainted to a super-effective Thundershock from AA-j “John the Zapist” the Zapdos. With that final electrifying moment came the end to one of the most landmark events in Video Game History. The crowd controlled, crowd fueled and crowd enjoyed Twitch Plays Pokemon became the Pokemon Champion!

The 6 Pokemon who were enshrined into the Hall of Fame:

  • Lord Helix the Omastar
  • Bird Jesus the Pidgeot
  • John the Zapist the Zapdos
  • Moon King “Fonz” The Nidoking
  • The Fresh Prince Lapras 
  • All Terrain Venomoth, Slayer of Dragons
If you really have no idea what I’m talking about, here’s the basic premise of Twitch plays Pokemon.

It was a playthrough of Pokemon Red with anywhere from 40,000 to 100,000 people constantly fighting over the controller to get their inputs in.

From the Wild Tile Ride at Rocket HQ in Celadon City, that forced the implenmentation of the two different control modes, Anarchy and Democracy; to the infamous “Bloody Sunday,” where there were 12 Pokemon released from the PC in an attempt to retrieve Zapdos, including longtime favorites “Apollo Justice” or “Digrat” the Raticade and “Dux” the Farfetch’d, slayer of trees… there were plenty of noteworthy moments on this stream that validated it’s viewer count.

What I just delved into is what really made the stream and playthrough the sensation that it was. It wasn’t just about tens of thousands of people making Red check his PokeDex 7 times a minute before crashing into a wall and talking to the same NPC 5 times in a row. The amount of community-created nicknames, storylines, and inside jokes were simply staggering. You may know everything about Pokemon Red, but if you tuned into the stream late, you’d have no idea why you’d want to PRAISE HELIX or why Flareon and the Dome Fossil were evil incarnate. Twitch Plays Pokemon had the kind of cult following that most Television shows, nevermind streams of a nearly 20 year old game, could hope for.

Including a literal cult who worshipped LORD HELIX

The amount of emotional investment people had in watching one of their fondest childhood memories being replayed infront of them really shined through on the Twitch Plays Pokemon stream.

Whether or not you were the staunchest advocate of Democracy or wildest supporter of Anarchy, Twitch Plays Pokemon was memorable ride that will be talked about for years to come.

Sharing collective moments of triumph such as the clearing of the Route 9 ledge boss, the capture of “John the Zapist” the Zapdos, the run of the Elite Four (where a level 36 Venomoth was able to defeat a Level 62 Dragonite in a heads up 1v1 battle), and of course the resurrection of the Helix Fossil into Lord Helix the Omastar.

Additionally, sharing moments of sadness even for some people, such as the release of “Jay Leno” the Rattata and “Abby” the Charmeleon, who were two of the Pokemon that were there from the start. There were moments on the stream so sublimely good, and then so sublimely bad, that the constrast between them made the stream into an addicting spectactle.

The subplots and the storylines to Twitch Plays Pokemon are what kept us going strong through 16 days, 7 hours, 50 minutes and 19 seconds of gameplay.

People wanted to see what would happen next. The tense moment every time Red approached a PC, the suspense of watching Red bumble around and release Pokemon into the wild quicker than Ash did the animated series. Moments in a trainer battle where the best option seemed to be to command Pidgeot (Bird Jesus) to whirlwind a Kangaskhan at 1hp. I could write for hours about occurances in Twitch Plays Pokemon, go through memes posted on the internet about it for days, and likely talk about it for years.

With the defeat of Blue, it’s over though, right? Red, Twitch’s unknowing marionette who consistently had 50,000 – 80,000+ puppetmasters, is standing on top of Kanto as the Pokemon Champion. There’s plenty of other “Twitch plays _____” streams that have popped up after the idea and source code for the chat controls were posted publicly by the streamer. They just don’t quite capture the essence of the collective insanity that the original stream does though.

But, after the credits rolled, there was some interesting text underneath “The End”…

About the author


As a die hard gamer and a 40 foot tall mutant hunting robot, I love to analyze and pick apart video games to be able to play them at high levels, and of course, to look good and be flashy while doing it ! Currently the NA eSports Analyst at, a League of Legends fansite, I've decided to branch out and blog about more broad concepts. If you want more focused League of Legends content, be sure to check out my work at, otherwise stay tuned to my new GameSkinny account for all kinds of articles covering a wider range of games, from League of Legends and DOTA2 to Fighting Games and even the occasional Hearthstone piece !