A virtual player controlled by Twitch is running around New York catching Pokémon

twitch pokemon go

Illustration by Bruno Moraes

If you thought Twitch Plays Pokémon was big, just look at it playing Pokémon Go.

It’s been over two years since Twitch Plays Pokémon first took over the world and now a new channel is taking the phenomenon to its next logical step: Pokémon Go.

Twitch Plays Pokémon takes one of the Pokémon games and lets viewers affect the outcome of a continuous playthrough by inputting commands in the chat box. The original run of Pokémon Red in 2014 saw over 9 million viewers, 1 billion minutes watched, and 122 million chat messages. Since its release in Australia, New Zealand, and the U.S. last week, Pokémon Go has become a cultural phenomenon, with one estimate placing the game's daily users in the U.S. at 9.5 million. It was only a matter of time between the two met in the form of a Twitch Plays Pokémon Go channel.

Similar to the original channel, Twitch Plays Pokémon Go has commands that players can enter in chat. The biggest difference is in the game itself. Pokémon Go uses real-world locations and augmented reality, forcing players to walk around to find and catch Pokémon and battle at gyms. So the channel uses a virtual player whose GPS coordinates are emulated. So instead of having commands like “go right” the channel has things like “rotate left” to rotate the camera to the left and “move SE” to move South East.


One of the biggest differences between the two channels is that Twitch Plays Pokémon Go is not a continuous runthrough, most likely because it’s being played on one of the creator’s personal iPhones. A note added to the Twitch channel yesterday says the developers are working on getting it up continuously.

“Our current setup is difficult to run logistically,” the note says. “We are close to launching a new setup where we can keep the stream running 24/7.” That is, of course, pending any server issues with the game, which was a huge problem on release but seems to be getting better.

After just two days the channel already has over 148,000 views. According to The Verge the channel was created by current and ex-fellows of non-profit HackNY. It makes sense then that the virtual player started the game in New York’s Central Park.

Since the stream uses a hack to work, there's a chance Nintendo or Niantic, its developers, could shut it down. The page addresses that in a FAQ on its Twitch page. "If Niantic or Nintendo wish to ban the account that we’re playing with we would understand, but we assume they know this is all in good fun.”

H/T The Verge

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