Pokemon Politics: My Attempt at Explaining the Chaos
To comment on this or ask me a question, go to the reddit post I made specifically for article.
Being the overly analytic person I am, the streaming of TwitchPlaysPokemon has given me the chance to watch a community flourish and the people develop similarly (though not entirely the same as) a government. Aside from creating a (weak) government system, this stream also demonstrated the importance of events in creating theologies and religions, even though they are not literal religions.
Before you continue any further though, I just want to note that all of this “analytic mumbo-jumbo” is just my way of fun. In no way should you believe I mean it seriously, and I also do not mean this is anywhere near actual politics. I am just writing this to for fun, get my ideas out, and to help shed a different light on the stream aside from the chaotic thousands of people shouting commands. I get that a few of you will disagree with a lot of what I say, but hey, that’s what “Pokemon politics” is all about, feel free to post your opinion or your ideas if you don’t like mine!
Tip: while reading this, forget about the actual political world. Democrats in the game isn't referring to the same definition as in actual political science, nor is Anarchy. They are simply labels for the different methods of playing the game! The whole point of Pokemon Politics focuses on how people want to play the game, not actual politics you’d see on the mainstream news.
Definition of Pokemon Politics
Before I go into depth, I’d like to start off with how I define Pokemon Politics: Pokemon Politics is how people play the game. This includes everything from typing commands, forming plans, wanting Anarchy or Democracy, wanting to make progress or troll, and the “religious factions” people have jokingly created. It is an attempt to understand the different groups and mindsets of people in the stream and community, and a way to classify and organize different ideas and help understand where your or other's ideas fall in the community. Pokemon Politics can even cover those who just watch the stream and do not interact (the independents; will talk about later on).
The environment that the stream has created is a monarchical, bi-partisan government, where the streamer is the monarch, and the players are to any extent political party adherents. Some people don’t care if the game is on Anarchy or Democracy, some players care enough to root for one party or another, and even participate in voting. Other players may be deeply involved with their party, going as far as posting on forums to explain why their party or position is the best bet for winning or for trolling (I will explain this later on). Both parties, and the people who tightly or loosely “identify” with them have one common purpose: to make the game fun or interesting, and make progress, whether it’s positive or negative progress.
Don’t worry if you don’t fit into a party or side, the system isn't just a line where a person is confined to being left, right or middle. It’s instead more like a graph, where Left-Right would represent your preference for methods to play the game, or political party, and Up-Down would represent your preference for progressing through the game, or progression ideology. An example of said graph:
We all know Anarchism and Democracy, the ideas that “Majority chaos eventually succeeds” and “Voting will help us succeed faster,” but notice the other part of the graph, Progressionism and Trolltalitarianism. Progressionism (no, I don’t mean progressivism to make it distinct from actual politics) is the side of people who want to complete the game. Trolltalitarianism (pun of ‘totalitarianism’) is the side of people who want to wreck the game and prevent progress.
You can fit in the middle, not having a specific preference of Democracy or Anarchy, and still want to make progress or troll the game. You can also not care if progress is made or trolling is done, or just like progress and trolling equally, and only fall on the Anarchism and Democracy line. How far towards the ends of the graph you are also has a role. If you are more towards the middle section, where the lines meet, you are less into your side, and have a better possibility of switching sides. Compared to others who are farther away from the intersection, they are much more deeply determined to make their preference win.
Lastly, you may just watch the stream, not interact with the community or game, and just want to see what happens without any preferences for Democracy, Anarchy, Trolltalitarianism or Progressionism at all. This mindset is seen as being Independent, and it’s slightly common. Though, I’d like to point out Independents are not as common as the other four branches, since most people, even if they're just watching, have a preference one way or another.
Now, remember how I said the streamer is the monarch? Let me explain. The streamer is the only person who can put “laws” (changes to the stream and game) in place. The streamer does not change, was not elected, and yet holds most of the power. The streamer is not a “religious” figure, like the Helix or The Keeper. His word is usually the final word on how the stream operates, but yet, he has little or no effect on the actual progress of the game or what the community chooses to do in the game.
Remember in the intro how I called it a weak government? I said this because there is no "constitution" or contract between the community and the monarch (streamer), nor is there such a contract in the community itself. Most of how the system works and has come to be is due to the unwritten natural law of humans and social psychology (another reason why I am deeply interested in this experiment). The monarch has no apparent reason to listen to the needs or wants of the community, he instead chooses to listen. I don't mean to portray the monarch as a bad guy though, he has shown in interviews that he doesn't want to be too involved with the game and just let the people do as they want.
But how does the monarch play a role in the system, and how do political parties interact with the monarch and the community? The people, regardless of preference, sometimes want the monarch to make changes to the game. Because both Anarchy and Democracy are roughly equal in size (or at least in amount of commands), and because there are no party leaders or representatives to say “we of Democracy want this” and “we of Anarchy want that,” the monarch usually makes changes based on the most popular of opinions, or that he believes will do best justice for the entire community. I’d like to assume the monarch is without preference for certain sides, since he does say he is doing this as an experiment to “see what happens,” but I have not personally talked to him, so it's only a whim.
Job of the Political Sides
It is the job of political adherents to present their side of the debate as to why we should make these changes, and convince the majority to follow that opinion. This goes back to how strong and “loyal” you are to your party. There is little chance a Democrat will convince an Anarchist who advocates Anarchy over Democracy to switch sides, and same vice versa. There are still the many people who are more open to picking and switching sides, and those are the people the parties try to target (even though most don’t realize they are targeting those types of people).
But, a question probably arises: do people legitimately even bother doing that, and if so, how do parties try to convince the people in the middle of the spectrum to vote Anarchism or Democracy? In all honesty, yes, people do try to convince others to join Democracy or Anarchism, and they do it using posts and “plans.” Here are a few examples of titles and ideas people have used to convince others to join their party:
1. “We should keep it Anarchy because democracy ruins the experiment”
2. “We should vote Democracy because otherwise we will just be stuck here for days”
3. “Democracy is too slow, vote anarchy for instant feedback from the people”
4. “Give Democracy a chance, it hasn't even had enough time to show if it’ll fail”
5. “Remove voting, Anarchy is all that is needed”
6. “We need to vote Democracy before trolls derail the game”
Look familiar? Maybe you agree with some of those ideas, and may not have thought it could have been about Pokemon Politics. Don’t worry though, these political parties have evolved even further than just trying to convince others to join their side. They have evolved and learned to sabotage one another as well, similarly to real politics (again, none of this closely resembles actual politics, it is a mock political system we created unintentionally for the fun of the game). For anarchists, a common phrase is “Start9,” a command once only usable under Democracy in order to deter progress while the Democracy system is in play. Anarchist who spout ‘Start9’ to sabotage the Democratic party would not be considered Trolltalitarians unless they also try to hurt progress under the Anarchy system as well. Instead, they are farther to the left as more extreme Anarchists. For Democrats, the pure trolling from the Trolltalitarians is their sabotage, and I have even seen a few Democrats encourage Trolltalitarians to continue so that people vote against Anarchy.
Now for an entirely new section of Pokemon Politics: interest groups. I define these as groups of people that share similar short term goals in the game, but you might define them as something else (share ideas in comments if you want). These are the groups of people who assemble “plans” for the game, and they are usually Progressionism to advance and not troll, but some Trolltalitarians do assemble interest groups for the advancement of trolling. The plans may be as simple as the fight strategy named the “Up-Left” plan, or the plans can be more complex, such as how to get to the next city, next HM, etc. These interest groups do not necessarily do things for a political party (unlike real interest groups in actual politics), but rather for their progress preference of Progressionism or Trolltalitarianism.
They are usually started by a person or a small group of a few people who have an idea they feel will contribute to progress. Sometimes their idea is shot down and ignored, and other times their idea slowly or quickly gains popularity and adherents. These adherents hop on board with the group and try to execute the plan in the game.
Though there are a few examples of political parties partnering with progression ideologies, like Anarchists siding with Trolltalitarians and with their “Start9” campaign against Democrats and Progressionists, I have not seen nearly as many examples of progression ideologies partnering with political parties, such as saying their plan requires the game to be under control of Democracy or Anarchy. I hope to see the system evolve in the future so that this is an event that happens more frequently, but not to the point where one ideology ties strictly to one political party.
Note: Remember earlier how I said don’t take anything here too seriously? I want to bring that back up with this section. I only use the term religion very loosely, as there are groups of people who ‘praise’ the Helix Fossil, Keeper, Jesus Bird, etc., as a joke and (hopefully) not as a legitimate belief. This section covers how these factions came about during the stream, and their role in the community.
You may have noticed lots of fan art or talk regarding “religious” icons that have stemmed from the game. These icons come mostly from events that happen in the game. Political parts aside, how the players have gone about the game so far has created an intriguing story of betrayal, love, and prophets. For example, the choosing of the Helix Fossil is a big event that arose presumably at random. This random yet import event in the progress of the game prompted community-wide interest, with people coming up with ideas of the Dome Fossil, and what all this means. Another mostly random event is the frequent selection of the Helix Fossil in the menu, and how it is indestructible. This prompted from the community the belief and assumption that Red consults the Helix for guidance in his journey. Of course people know this isn't the case, people still have a tendency to add greater meaning to the most random yet important of events.
Aside from the Helix Fossil, the release of pokemon, especially “Abby”, the starter-pokemon the community “chose”, has also prompted heavy community interest. For the few Pokemon the community manages not to release, people dub them names and roles, and the majority of the community follows said roles.
In a logical sense, social and group psychology can explain why the community acts this way, but Pokemon Politics isn’t about the real world, so I’m not going to go into depth with that (unless someone comments wanting to know out of curiosity). What I will go into minor depth is how these religious figures rise: from random, yet important events that impact the game or that the community believes has a deeper meaning. In simple terms: people want to have fun with this experiment, and want to make a story out of the events that happen.
In return, this “religious” side also increases the amount of people who are interested in the stream. It has contributed how the community has grown, and how political parties, progression ideologies, fan art, etc has grown more popular or larger in size by grabbing people who haven’t heard of or were not once interested in the stream. People on the outside (not watching the stream) who see the community create this story want to see why people are making this a big fuss, or are interested into the history or how the community has created certain ideas.
The “religious” culture has essentially helped and continues to help the community grow, and develops a story for people to follow.
Additional Questions and Comments
This section is to answer a few lurking questions or ideas I feel I have not fully addressed in the article.
You write a lot.
Yes. Yes I do.
How do you find any of this fun!? This is boring!
Well, that’s mostly for psychology to explain, and this isn’t the place to explain all of that. It’s partially too much time on my hands, but also a deeply ingrained interest of mine in learning, picking-up on patterns, or finding order in chaos. Before you ask again, I’m not a ‘nerd’, and I don’t enjoy school as much as people should either (school should be fun, but the current methods just don’t appeal to that ‘fun’ mindset students thrive under). I like to do things that appeal to me and try to challenge me, where school just doesn't bother to do that at the moment. In the end, everyone is semi-different, and everyone has their opinions of what’s “fun” or what to believe and why, but we are all still human.
Is any of this important?
No, again, I said this was for fun. It’s something to see first hand how a political system may evolve given you have two or more sides and a goal to achieve. It’s also to show that something as simple as Pokemon can have a deeper meaning, as mentioned in the next answer.
Are you trying to convince me this is something other than people playing Pokemon?
You can always find deeper meaning in something, it was only a matter of time before someone found a deeper meaning to thousands of people playing Pokemon at once. So yes, I am in a way trying to convince you there is a deeper meaning behind this that does exist, but you don’t have to listen to it or follow it, you can choose to do what you want.
I don’t fall under this so-called “political” system.
You do. Whether you take these Pokemon Politics serious or not is another story, but in some way, shape, or form, you fall under one of these categories. You might be a moderate, not caring for a specific side, or an independent just wanting to watch the game. You don’t need to be aware of Pokemon Politics to fall on the political spectrum, your ideas and preference to how the game should be done are what put you on it.
Okay so, out of curiosity, how is Democracy important in this? Doesn’t it just ruin the point?
I personally believe the Democracy and Anarchy parties are important because it adds a bit of depth and chaos to the mix. The game is already semi-unpredictable, and now with Democracy and Anarchy, it adds a new sense of that community chaos we know and love, and a new way for the community to interact.
Democracy should be removed in the first place.
This is exactly what some more extreme Anarchists believe, and I see lot’s of people with similar opinions. Again, though, that’s what the idea of Pokemon Politics is all about, your beliefs on how the game should be played. There are Democrats who would love disagree with you!
Some or most of what you say isn't accurate/I don’t see it the same way you do.
First, this is my theory of Pokemon Politics. Theories are not always accurate, but have lots of observable facts behind them (and indeed, this theory does), and also not everyone sees things the same way as others! Let me stress: this is only my attempt to explain why people act the way they do in the stream, not hardcore, factual and realistic political science. I was intrigued by how people act, and how there are seemingly groups of people who act similarly, and I wanted to try and explain why this is and how it works.
Well then, alright. I’d like to hear a comment why you downvoted. I hope you aren't just downvoting because you don’t understand some or all of it, don’t care about it, or because it’s a wall of text; that’s just plain ignorance! If you don’t care, move on. If you don’t like big text, move on. If you don’t understand something, comment, I will try my best to explain my thought process! (May take a few minutes more than usual to write up a response)
Don’t forget to comment your ideas, or give feedback as to what you think.