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TikTok Plays Pokemon Explained

The memes of Lord Helix and Bird Jesus grew to legendary status among "Pokémon" fans who were tuned into the "Twitch Plays Pokémon" phenomenon. Viewers collectively controlled the actions of the player character through command inputs and donations, making for a truly unique "Pokemon" experience. The TwitchPlaysPokemon channel began its social experiment in February 2014 (per Polygon), kicking off a pop culture movement that won a number of awards for fan ingenuity. TwitchPlaysPokemon has continued to host viewer-commanded livestreams to this day, but it may have earned a spirited competitor as of this week.

TikTok has firmly established itself as a platform for Pokémon content to thrive, where even the voice actor for Ash has made a splash (not the Magikarp kind). Searching for "Pokemon" on TikTok will yield more a collective 36.3 billion views for short videos ranging from top five lists, to shiny Pokémon reactions, to trading card unboxing videos. And now, TikTok user i_haskill became the latest Pokémon content creator to break out on the platform with his spin on the TwitchPlaysPokemon concept. The announcement this week of a bot that enables viewers to play older "Pokémon" games through the social media platform has attracted a great deal of attention in a short period of time.

Is Broccoli Man the next Lord Helix?

According to j_haskell, he has created a "(mostly) functioning bot" for the audience to control with comments during livestreams on TikTok, aptly referring to the activity as "TikTok plays Pokemon." Haskill's announcement video alone earned over 100,000 views in just a few short days, which suggests an immediate interest from fans.

The account has already posted a hilarious recap of viewers' adventures in "Pokémon Red" (via TikTok), during which the audience set out with a Bulbasaur nicknamed "Broccoli Man" and promptly "got lost for hours." Apparently, j_haskell saw a bit of a delay in displaying the viewer commands during the first livestream. In a comment on the video, he also wrote how he "barely knew how to get this thing working [as] it is now," but some of that appears to have been smoothed out since then.

Technical issues aside, the content creator appeared determined to host future streams. He thanked viewers in the comments of the announcement video and said he aims to host future "TikTok Plays Pokemon" live streams in the afternoons and evenings every week.

It remains to be seen how "TikTok Plays Pokémon" will fare when compared to its Twitch inspiration or other inspired projects, like Twitter's take on the experiment. Even so, it looks like the channel is off to a solid (and very silly) start.