I'd post to Livejournal more often if it would let me sign in! Logging on only works half the time, and when it fails it locks me out for a while just in case I'm a robot. Sigh.
Anyway, I wanted to revisit TwitchPlaysPokemon, to let you all know how this experiment in directed meme generation has gone. It's a surprising history. It's also very long.
As you'll recall, the first generation of TPP played the game 'Pokemon Red', with all the players offering inputs that were randomly selected to be used by the game. With a peak playerbase of 180,000 people, it was complete anarchy. It was also a meme generation machine. By the end of the game, every character they had fought against or alongside had acquired a backstory, a fandom, and fanfiction of their own. You can tell how legendary everything became by just looking at the final team of pokemon:
Each of those pokemon obtained a legendary title among the fans. You may think the 'All-Terrain Vehicle' is misplaced. But because of a glitch in that version of the game, it turned out that Venomoths were immune to damage from dragons. Since one of the final elite bosses specialized in dragons, the Venomoth proved his worth and earned a second, more legendary title: Dragonslayer.
So a lot of people created a lot of lore, and a lot of memes. What happens next?
After finishing Pokemon Red, the channel switched to play Pokemon Crystal, the next generation of pokemon games. It took a while for lore to be established there, but it gradually coalesced. In this game the pokemon were the driving force, not their trainer nor the mysterious voices that controlled them all. Since the first generation had established themselves as myths and gods -- both in the in-game world and in the memespace of the real-world players -- the second generation had no choice.
They had to slay the gods.
That's not quite the catchphrase of the second TPP generation -- usually it was stated as, 'No Gods, No Kings, Only Mon'. Since they could not perform deeds equal to the myths that came before them, this team set out to kill their predecessors. Eventually the mysterious person running the channel announced that he had hacked the game so that the final boss would fight using the original team of pokemon.
And thus this meme experiment proved what I wrote in Indefensible Positions: 'Every act of creation is an act of destruction, the erasure of what came before.' There is limited space for memes in the minds of human beings. New memes must fight to crowd out old ones if they want to survive.
The third generation of TPP went in a direction that was unexpected, but makes sense. First, you have to understand that the playerbase has plummeted. Hundreds of thousands has turned into a max of about 8,000 at peak times. Only the die-hard fanatics remain. There are also a lot of bots set up to spam commands intended to ruin everyone else's time. For a while the game couldn't progress because spambots kept pressing a series of buttons that reset the game to the beginning. The channel owner disabled that sequence, but the griefbots continue.
So what did the third generation do? They couldn't become heroes like generation 1. They couldn't depose the old heroes like generation 2. All that had been done before. A meme can not take hold by retreading old ground. So the third generation decided to take a new tactic: They became villains.
This team was not led by a god-touched boy driven to greatness. It was not a team of godslayers out to bring down the old legends. This team just wanted to go out and wreck shit, and their trainer was psychotically insane. The main pokemon of this team was usually depicted as a mercenary who brutalized everyone in her path.
You'll note that she's also depicted as human. The entire team was often depicted that way. I'm not sure why. Perhaps, having been crowded out of the memespace for any true mythic appearance, these fictional memes were trying to be believable.
TPP is on its fourth generation game now. It's a randomized version of Pokemon Red -- the same game as the first gen, but with random items, enemies, and abilities. So far the memes seem to be going for the 'alternate universe' trope -- the same game but different. They've come full circle, inhabited every memespace they could find, and now they're finally repeating themselves. We'll see how that works out.