Being a Pokémon master takes time and patience -- beating a game in the franchise usually takes at least a couple dozen of hours. Now imagine trying to beat a Pokémon game while thousands of other people also control your avatar.
Now imagine that these thousands of people will do whatever they want to your avatar, as they may not even care if you beat the game at all.
If it sounds like madness, it kind of is. As of this writing, there are nearly seven thousand people watching a Pokémon stream of the original games, Red and Blue (it's not clear which one it is). Here's where it gets interesting: someone has set the emulator such that it takes inputs from the chat on the side of the Twitch stream. The game only seems to recognises the four D-Pad directions, A, B, Start and Select. The stream is called "Twitch Plays Pokemon," and so far, it's glorious. Here's a chunk of footage from last night, though you can also watch it live here.
If you've ever watched a well-populated stream on Twitch before, you know how fast the chat on the side can move -- it can be impossible to read what anyone is saying. Despite that inevitable chaos, the game takes all the inputs in real time, as you can see in the footage -- what this means in practice is that the game progresses as if the main character was drunk and confused. It's rather amusing.
Progresses is the key word here: sure, playing Pokémon via Twitch chat means that there is a massive lack of coordination, resulting in situations where it may take minutes for a character to walk through one measly door. Still, Twitch chat is doing it. At the moment, they're trying their best to get past the Cerulean City gym, which is requiring them to grind a little together. Meaning somehow, at some point, they beat the first gym together (Cerulean is the second gym in the original games). I know -- watching, it may seem baffling as to how Twitch chat has managed that, given that it has spent the last dozen hours trying to beat said gym and given that some people are clearly interested in trolling the game. But it has! The wonders of the internet never cease.
I wonder how long it'll take them to beat the whole game? You can watch Twitch's progress here.