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Thousands of people play Pokémon at once via Twitch

Creator explains how he did it.

Five and half million people have watched and thousands taken part in a still-ongoing livestream of Pokémon Red where viewers control the game.

The stream is being hosted by an anonymous Twitch broadcaster who created their own script that allows viewers to type out button inputs in the chat window.

But as the stream's popularity skyrocketed, so too has the number of people spamming input commands.

Progress has been slow, and after three days of non-stop play the Twitch hivemind has only just beaten the Cerulean City gym (second out of eight in the game).

"I wrote a script in Python that listens for buttons said in chat and simulates a keypress for the corresponding button in the emulator," the creator explained to Twitch, in comments passed to Eurogamer. "The script also outputs button presses to a locally-hosted website which provides the overlay.

"I use Open Broadcaster Software to merge the website and emulator output into a video feed that gets sent off to Twitch. SaltyBet [more on SaltyBet here] incited my interest of automated Twitch streams with a heavy focus on viewer interaction. I thought that a collaborative attempt to complete a game would be entertaining to watch and participate in.

"Pokémon seemed like a natural choice due to its lack of reaction-demanding gameplay and very forgiving difficulty. When making it I didn't know if anyone would be interested, it was intended more as a proof-of-concept. I didn't have any expectations of how people would interact with the stream, but I was very curious. I never planned on this many viewers/players so I'm glad that it's holding up as well as it is."

Twitch itself is pretty pleased with the stream's performance, too.

"This is one more example of how video games have become a platform for entertainment and creativity that extends way beyond the original intent of the game creator," Twitch exec Matthew DiPietro explained.

"By merging a video game, live video and a participatory experience, the broadcaster has created an entertainment hybrid custom made for the Twitch community. This is a wonderful proof on concept that we hope to see more of in the future."

You can take part via the Twitch site, or watch the (incredibly slow) progress below.

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