Playing video games can be hard. Making decisions in RPGs, aiming long sniper shots in first-person shooters, or even judging jumping distances in simple platforming games relies on a gamer’s ability to judge the situation at hand and quickly execute the correct command to ensure success. Imagine if you had to judge a gaming scenario, but you were playing along with 1 million people who were also making decisions — with 36 million people watching. It might seem like an impossible scenario, but it became a reality with “Twitch Plays Pokémon.”
Pokémon online games have their place, but “Twitch Plays Pokémon” was something completely different. The social experiment consisted of nearly 1 million people inputting commands through a custom emulator running “Pokémon Red” (first released in 1996 for Nintendo’s Game Boy). The game started off slow at first, with literally thousands of commands coming in every second, which resulted in the main character spinning around and walking in unpredictable zigzags. However, as the game progressed and gamers became more collaborative and invested, progress actually began to be made. Sixteen days later, the members of Twitch TV had beat “Pokémon Red.”
Delivering Streaming in an Interactive Environment
The interactive streaming element was one of the biggest reasons why “Twitch Plays Pokémon” attracted so much attention. Though streaming service Twitch TV has hosted thousands of individual game streams, “Twitch Plays Pokémon” was the first interactive stream where user input dictated a player’s movement in the game. These types of real-time streams that rely on user input must run without lag so the true gaming experience can be preserved.
“Twitch Plays Pokémon” was also unique because it built viewership as the game progressed, garnering more than 36 million unique viewers over the course of the two-week-long game. This required Twitch TV to make some server adjustments to support the load, according to Ars Technica. When traffic unexpectedly surges, it is vital to have the scalability that content delivery networks provide so individuals streaming your content don’t get left behind.
Though the inaugural session of “Twitch Plays Pokémon” drew to a close in early March, the second iteration of the next generation of Pokémon online games has just begun. Although “Twitch TV Plays Pokémon Crystal” has yet to hit the viewership and engagement highs that the first round reached, it appears well-positioned to establish crowdsourced inputs as a legitimate trend in the gaming world.
If this type of group gaming does become the hallmark of streaming gaming services, it is important that companies hoping to provide users with the opportunity to experience streaming interactive content have delivery methods that ensure everyone can enjoy the game without worrying about technical issues like server overload or lag.
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