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Remember when Twitch beat Pokémon? Over 1.16 million people participated in the 16-day campaign. And when it was finally over, a weird feeling of accomplishment washed over the entire gaming community. We beat Pokémon, and we did it together. Democracy overcame anarchy. The good guys won.
Well, now Twitch is playing Halo, and it's the opposite of all that.
For the last 13 hours, Master Chief has been taking directions from a bossy chat room. It's really hard to tell how much of the campaign has been completed, because Chief spends most of his time stumbling into walls and falling into holes. But, from what I can tell, Twitch has managed to polish off the first mission, which is impressive considering how many times I saw the word "crouch" misspelled as "crotch."
During my time with the stream, most of the crew was attempting to pilot Chief across a narrow bridge, but a large number of chatroom trolls wouldn't cooperate. So, we watched the Spartan Commando repeatedly tumble to his death. Apparently he's died over 900 times since the stream began, and they've been trying to cross this bridge for hours.
It would have been sad if it weren't so funny.
Halo seems like an odd fit for a social experiment like this. Pokémon games aren't particularly difficult, and they're practically tailor made for Twitch. In fact, any old-school RPG would fit the bill. But first-person shooters, are hard enough as is. The controls are complicated. You have to maneuver through three dimensions. And the firefights often require lightning-fast reflexes. So, the fact that Twitch can't make it across a bridge really isn't surprising.
However, the fact that they managed to beat the first level is almost heroic.
So far, Twitch has played Pokémon Red, The Legend of Zelda, Tetris, Final Fantasy 3, and a handful of other games. But none of these rival Halo in terms of difficulty.
Even if they never make it across that bridge, Twitch Plays Halo proves that very few games are off limits for this kind of hyper-democratic gameplay model. Could we link two separate Twitch channels and play the co-op campaign from Secret of Mana? Could two channels face off in an RTS like StarCraft 2? What about a platformer like Guacamelee?
If you want to check out the feed, head on over to Twitch.tv. I hope you like it when people walk into walls.