Chisme, Lo Cotidiano and Disruptive Gameplay

DeAnda, Michael

On 12 February 2014, an unknown Australian developer colloquially known as ‘Streamer’ launched Twitch Plays Pokémon, an emulation of Pokémon Red experimentally modified for collaborative play through an online streaming platform, Twitch. During the run of the game, the number of players simultaneously feeding commands into the game yielded some odd in-game behaviors: the avatar would aimlessly pace, give random strings as nicknames to pokémon, and attempt to use items at improper moments. To provide context for this absurd gameplay, players narrativized Twitch Plays Pokémon. What began with a frantic avatar constantly and incorrectly trying to use items in pokémon battles became a messianic tale of good and evil. In this article, I read Twitch Plays Pokémon through methods developed from Latina theology. I argue that when analyzed through lo cotidiano (daily life) and chisme (gossip), Twitch Plays Pokémon underscores experimental games as spaces to collaboratively disrupt privileged readings of cultural texts and assumed uses of technologies. Using lo cotidiano, I discuss how games train players towards certain uses of technologies, privileging these logics in daily lived interactions with technological affordances. I then demonstrate how Twitch Plays Pokémon disrupts the expected play of video games. I use chisme as a critical lens for metacognition and collaborative meaning-making to frame the fan-created Lord Helix narrative generated amidst Twitch Plays Pokémon. Reading the emergent player behaviors as chisme allows me to account for the nuances of fan labor, seeing it as knowledge that is created through experience and then shared, tested, and scrutinized through communities.