TwitchPlaysPokémon Debate: Anarchy vs. Democracy

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Hello everyone, and thank you for tuning in to our debate. Tonight, we will have our distinguished guests debate the merits of Democracy and Anarchy in TwitchPlaysPokémon, as the gaming world is now witnessing one of the greatest social experiments of our time. TPP, as it’s known, is the brainchild of a genius programmer that takes stream comments from Twitch.tv and inputs them as commands in Pokémon Red. There are two ways of playing TPP: Anarchy and Democracy. In Anarchy mode, whatever the Twitch commenters say, goes. In Democracy mode, the most popular commands during each twenty second period determine what action the character will take next.

Here with us tonight are Jake Petersen, advocate for Democracy, and Christian Mincks, speaking on behalf of the Anarchists. Thank you for joining us here tonight, ladies and gentlemen. As chosen by a coin toss, up first is Jake Petersen to present for us why we must embrace Democracy.

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My fellow Twitchers,

I stand before you today to explain why we must embrace Democracy. I will begin with an enumeration of the ills caused by Anarchy. Thus far, our journey has been one beset by trials and tribulations. These problems have been blamed upon many causes: The Dome Fossil, the tree, the “False Prophet” Flareon, or trolls. I come to tell you, though, that all of our problems, all of our mistakes, have but one cause: Anarchy.

These events were all written off as the whim of the Helix Fossil, the meddling of the Dome, or any number of other causes, but behind all these potential causes lies Anarchy.

It was Anarchy that kept us enslaved to the ledge.

It was Anarchy that prevented us from cutting a simple tree for a whole day.

It was Anarchy that caused not only actions, but the very being of the False Prophet Flareon.

It was Anarchy that sent ABBBBBBK( and JLVWNNOOOO out into the cold, and it was ANARCHY that caused the events of Bloody Sunday, which saw DUX, DigRat, and Cabbage released, and nearly cost us Bird Jesus.

My friends, if we are to complete our holy quest to become the Pokémon Master, we need to change our ways. Anarchy has brought us nothing but ruin and the loss of many dear friends and allies. I bring before you a new way: Democracy.

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Once we embrace DEMOCRACY, we will no longer fear for the lives of our Pokémon. We will be able to navigate the depths of the hated PC without fear, for we will move with one will, one purpose! Once we embrace Democracy, no longer will we be beholden to simple ledge for hours on end, forced to go back and try again, only to be thwarted by single troll, like Sisyphus and his great stone. When we permanently switch to Democracy, and stick with it, all of our woes will cease. By carefully deciding upon our course of action, we will make progress. All of the remaining gym leaders, and after them, the Elite Four, will fall before our united will and the power of BirdJesus.

Democracy has worked in the past. It was Democracy that got us through the spinning hell of the Rocket base. It was Democracy that got us through the Safari Zone. It was Democracy that saved BirdJesus and AA-j from the depths of the PC when we lost eleven others to the Bloody Sunday massacre.

45fThere are criticisms of Democracy, however, and I wish to address them now. The first criticism usually thrown at Democracy is that it is slow and boring to watch. While I will not dispute that Democracy is boring and slow, I argue that it is entirely necessary if we are to complete this quest. We will need to buy items to make it through Victory Road, and we will need to solve the puzzles contained within. After that comes the Elite Four. We will need to work as one mind, one body, to defeat these challenges and achieve our destiny!

5c3Thank you for you your inspiring words, Mr. Petersen. Here to present the counterpoint is Christian Mincks. As you wish, Mr. Mincks.

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One of the oldest debates in history regards the “natural state of man.” If you believe philosophers like Thomas Hobbes, all people are born wicked, and order must be established to tame them. On the other hand, we have thinkers like Jean-Jacques Rousseau, who gives us the idea of the noble savage; people who, in their natural state, are capable of working together to great ends. Hobbes is what you might call a realist. Rousseau, conversely, is more of an idealist.

In the context of TwitchPlaysPokémon, Rousseau’s idealism represents Anarchy. The original experiment was to see if thousands of Internet users were capable of making progress in a game of Pokémon Red if EVERY person has direct control over the character. And by Helix, it was a messy process, accidentally releasing their starter Pokémon along the way, but they made it halfway through the game in a matter of only four days. In that time, they managed to solve Lt. Surge’s Gym puzzle in one try, power-level a Pidgeot, and conquer a long, finicky ledge where one wrong input meant starting all over.

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Then came the darkest day, when the stream was stuck trying to navigate the Team Rocket Hideout. They spent so long stuck in a tile maze, the creator introduced them to a new mode of play: Democracy, the realist counterpart to Anarchy. Democracy is an objectively better play mode, I won’t deny it. It phases out any “troll” commands that pop up along the way, and because of the delay between commands, it also neutralizes some of the lag. Nevertheless, it is the wrong choice.

I ask you, precisely what is being overcome when we play in Democracy? In literal terms, Democracy has been activated to acquire the Lift Key, Silph Scope, and successfully cross the Safari Zone. But when you consider all those things, they’re all challenges presented by the game that you would encounter in a normal playthrough. The only thing using Democracy overcomes is a pre-scripted challenge we’ve all done ten times in our childhood. Where’s the fun in that?

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Anarchy, on the other hand, forces us to overcome our selves and our differences. It forces us to coordinate, not to silence those that would impede our progress, but to counteract them. This whole thing began as a social experiment to see if the figurative one thousand monkeys will eventually write a figurative Shakespeare play. And for those first four days, a messy, metaphorical version of Hamlet was beginning to take shape. But now, whenever we face the slightest setback, the votes start pouring in for Democracy—and what fun is a perfect word-for-word replica of Hamlet when you can read the original?

John F Kennedy couldn’t have spoken more truly when he said that we chose to go to the moon “not because [it is] easy, but because [it is] hard.”

Consider: Without Anarchy, would this playthrough be any fun? Yes, the loss of Abby and Jay Leno was a huge blow to the Hive Mind’s confidence. But they didn’t stop. They didn’t ask for Democracy. They embraced the loss within their deep, self-constructed lore and kept going.

Anarchy is the only way to truly give every player a voice. So I ask you, progress-seekers, casual players, social experimenters, and trolls alike, join me in adversity against the imposed Democracy each time it rears its ugly head yet again. Raise the voices Anarchy has given you to the sky and cry with me: “START9!”

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UPDATE to the Anarchy speech:

My gracious colleague has allowed me to add to my testimony since my original speech was written before the events of Bloody Sunday, a series of catastrophes that has understandably shaken confidence in the Anarchy playstyle. But I still say that we should not lose faith.

We all loved Dux, Cabbage, and BigDig. Now, thanks to the events of Bloody Sunday, they’ve been released along with nearly ten others we nabbed from the Safari Zone.

But Dux, Cabbage, and BigDig were born in Anarchy, raised in Anarchy, shaped in Anarchy. In the end, they became martyrs, I believe, for the cause of Anarchy. Should we concede to Democracy now? No! Doing so would be dishonor to their memories… especially BigDig.

BigDig represented Anarchy through and through. He was our wild-card. Some said he was an agent of Dome, because he dug us out of areas at inopportune moments. Yet others applauded his valiant efforts scoring one-hit KOs against the ghosts in Lavender Town. He was the unpredictable one—just as unpredictable as Anarchy itself—and if we want to honor him posthumously, we must continue forward in the direction he would have wanted. Not just for BigDig, but for all who gave their lives to the cause.

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Who do you think won the debate? Will Democracy rule or Anarchy reign? Decide the winner in the comments below, or tweet the debaters: Jake is @JakePPetersen and Christian is @BurningSoup.