Thousands take to Twitch to participate in groundbreaking Pokémon experiment

Standing at a pixelated desk in Professor Oak's lab, you have one choice to make. In order to protect yourself from the deadly creatures and dangerous men of the wilds north of Pallet Town, you must decide whether to arm yourself with an orange lizard, a baby turtle or all the unbridled fury of a miniature rhododendron.

It's a difficult choice to make, made more difficult if there are five and a half million other people all muscling in on the decision at the same time.

A massive collaboration game of Pokémon Red has begun on social gaming video site, Twitch. Using Twitch's chat function, players can type in one of eight commands – up, down, left, right, A, B, start or select – to move Ash around the game's world.

The stream is being hosted by an anonymous Twitch broadcaster as a "social experiment" that some users say is a breakthrough development in the Internet's history. Other users, however, question the point.

Only one command can be typed at a time, for instance, with that command taking up to 40 seconds to register. With so many players inputting commands simultaneously, a five-second-rule has also been implemented so that whichever command is typed most over a five-second period will be carried out. It's as democratic as you're going to get when 30,000 thousand people are yelling "Up!" "No, down, DOWN" at their computer screens.

It means that progress has been painstakingly slow though, and after five days of practically non-stop playing the Twitch hive-mind has only just got to the Team Rocket hideout (about a third of a way through the campaign).

Still, with more than eight million people having viewed the game since it went live online last week, it is a landmark moment. Never before have thousands of people worked together to drive a lone protagonist through a single game campaign.

If you want to catch 'em all with the best of them, head over to Twitch now where at the time of publication, around 30,000 people are trying to steer the main character through a slippery floor puzzle. Let's see how long it takes them to solve it.