Choice Chamber is a Twitch Plays Pokémon-Inspired Social Experiment
Last night I played a little bit of Choice Chamber, a 2D platformer where the parameters of the game are decided by polling the audience watching on Twitch. Which weapon will you have to fight the enemies before you, a sword or a hammer? How high can you jump when faced with flying foes? These options are voted for on the fly as the people opt for the most exciting outcome. Or, at least, the one that'll garner the funniest reaction from the poor bastard sat gawping at the screen on Twitch.
Outside of the novelty of the premise – roughly ten people were watching and no doubt turning against me, on Twitch, as I played through a few screens – it's a straightforward 2D hack-and-slash game with only jumping and attacking as commands. But having your fate in the hands of the audience is a genuinely refreshing idea with an unpredictable element of social experimentation. You're always able to see the three variables being voted on in the top right-hand corner of the screen, and the result no doubt makes you question the way you're perceived by the viewers. Honestly, if I was watching me pull my concentration face on Twitch, I'd probably engineer my own death too.
My very short run with the game was pretty tough, and clearly the remit here is to torture players until they reach a game over screen, which was embarrassingly fast in my case. I like the idea Choice Chamber can make heroes out of players able to get pretty far, possibly against the wishes of the people watching.
It's still a successful Kickstarter away from coming to life, though, and with Twitch Plays Pokémon reinvigorating a type of experience we all thought we knew so well, I would assume a number of other developers are eyeing creative ways of harnessing that user-nominated template. I think Choice Chamber would benefit from arriving sooner rather than later while this is still fresh territory for game design.
There will be a single-player option as well, though it seems the success of Choice Chamber is contingent on there both being an audience for game then another watching it on Twitch. That premise, to me, and the simplicity with which the options play out has the potential to find a very specific cult of players, even if the basic game seems familiar on other fronts. The Kickstarter launches this Sunday and is gunning for a modest $30,000.