1333: First Date

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First Date
I sympathize with the TPP protagonist because I, too, have progressed through a surprising number of stages of life despite spending entire days stuck against simple obstacles.
Title text: I sympathize with the TPP protagonist because I, too, have progressed through a surprising number of stages of life despite spending entire days stuck against simple obstacles.


TPP, or Twitch Plays Pokémon, was the first of a creative and radical new variant of streaming gameplay videos created in early 2014 — a few days before this comic was released.

Some people enjoy watching video games being played by other people (usually 'popular' gamers known for entertaining gameplay), thus streaming sites dedicated to streaming gameplay were created. Twitch.tv was one such site.

Whereas traditional video game streams involved the channel broadcaster or another personality playing the game, the channel "Twitch Plays Pokémon" recorded a bot playing an emulated game of Pokémon Red for Game Boy. The game inputs given by the bot were based on players' messages in the video stream itself. Thus, the watchers of the stream were playing the game themselves using chat "commands." The Pokémon character behaved incredibly erratically, frequently getting "stuck against simple obstacles" (as mentioned in the title-text) and moving about in a strange manner ("Why are you up there?"/"Bye...Okay, coming back now").

Despite this, the character advanced surprisingly far in games. They have beaten the Elite Four and Champion of generations I, II, III, IV, and V, and VI. Twitch Plays Pokémon has also completed various ROM hacks and Spin-off titles, establishing a seasonal format with multiple games each season. You can see the state of the player characters' Pokémon and inventory at game end in this Bulbapedia article.

TPP surged in popularity rapidly since its inception, reaching 80,000 channel viewers within five days. Derivative channels (such as 'TwitchPlayers') soon arose, turning "Twitch Plays..." into an idea rather than a single channel; that of crowdsourcing a task, such as controlling a single person (as in the Pokémon games) for erratic and often hilarious results. The stream, which is still active as of this writing, has reached memetic status.

In the above comic, Cueball and Megan are on a date. However, Megan is behaving very erratically. Cueball determines that Megan is being "controlled by Twitch," as her behavior matches well with that of the TPP protagonist (whose name, canonically, is Red).

Megan loudly declares at one point that she is "SAVING" her 'game progress', referencing the incessant saving in TPP via random button presses. The random ten-letter string she says is reminiscent of the nicknames that all of TPP's Pokémon end up with as the players move haphazardly across the game's keyboard.

Her fascination with the "cool spiral" is an allusion to TPP players' fascination with the Helix Fossil, an in-game item. As user input often leads to checking of the in-game backpack followed by erratic commands to handle the items within, it was common for various valuable items to be haphazardly thrown away. However, as the Helix Fossil was a key item, it could not be tossed. It was also the first item in the Bag due to this, leading to the players' continuously selecting it whenever accessing their Bag, eventually causing them to somewhat jokingly regard it as an object of religious reverence. "Check out this cool..." is also a phrase used in various XKCD comics, such as 2703: Paper Title, typically in a tongue-in-cheek context.

The title text, as explained above, simply is a light-hearted joke from Randall, empathizing with TPP as he has also spent real-life days stuck against simple obstacles, and is surprised by how far he has gotten in life despite this fact.


[Cueball and Megan sit at an intimate dinner table. They have plates and glasses of wine in front of them.]
Cueball: So, did you grow up around here?
Megan: I love you.
Cueball: ... huh?
Megan: Waiter! One of everything on the menu.
[Megan stands up. Standing on her chair, holding a plate.]
Cueball: Why are you up there?
Megan: I'm stuck.
Megan: This plate looks delicious.
Megan: Aaaoogaoag.
[Megan has put the plate down and walked off-panel.]
Megan: Bye.
Megan: OK. Coming back now.
[Megan is crouched on her chair, holding a spiral.]
Cueball: You're being controlled by Twitch, aren't you?
Megan: Check out this cool spiral!
Cueball: It's—
Megan: SAVING.

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PRAISE THE HELIX, ahh TPP is just so fun to watch 21:02, 2 March 2014 (UTC)

HAIL HELIX ‎ (talk) (please sign your comments with ~~~~)

Should this be put into the Pokémon category? The comic has nothing to do with Pokémon itself, but the subject matter does. Blitzer (talk) 07:37, 21 February 2014 (UTC)

Kill me for being a stupid nerd, but when I first read the title "First Date" I thought it was going to be a strip about the Unix Epoch. 10:30, 21 February 2014 (UTC)

I think that was a very cool deducton, Monica. 15:47, 21 February 2014 (UTC)
Thats nothing. Ive actually nerd sniped myself with an xkcd comic before. thinking that the one about DNE referred to the concept of an undefined value (ie 1/0) BruceJohnJennerLawso (talk) 19:00, 22 February 2014 (UTC)

This is the first strip for a while that I had no idea what was going on. Thanks, explainxkcd! BTW I do think the Pokémon category is probably relevant enough. Mark Hurd (talk) 11:02, 21 February 2014 (UTC)

Ah, ditto. Cheers for the explanation (not sure whether I'm happy or not that I'm so disassociated from apparently popular culture though). I actually thought "Twitch" was some sort of "random Twitter feed" thing, though, so (to some degree) I suppose I was also almost on the right track. 17:31, 21 February 2014 (UTC)
Hah, ditto. 05:44, 2 June 2016 (UTC)

Anyone else notice that between panels 2 and 3, Cueball drinks most of his wine? 17:51, 21 February 2014 (UTC)

Yes, I was intrigued by that! At least, his glass gets emptier — it seems plausible that Megan might have drunk or spilled it too. 18:48, 21 February 2014 (UTC)
Seems like the amount of wine in his glass is constantly decreasing from panel 1-4. Also, the helix will guide us! 12:48, 22 February 2014 (UTC)
Praise the Helix! 16:21, 24 February 2014 (UTC)

I took my 4-year-old out to lunch at a restaurant last week. Randall, was that you, sitting at the next booth, taking notes? 18:42, 6 March 2014 (UTC)

This guy says: It's been 1.5 and now this is an old dead meme. 09:36, 5 October 2015 (UTC)

Should we add a table explaining each of the phrases that Megan speaks? 625571b7-aa66-4f98-ac5c-92464cfb4ed8 (talk) 01:24, 19 March 2017 (UTC)

SHAMELESS ADVERTISEMENT FOLLOWS [1] is a place where the dev hooked up a switch to a PC and now you can play using your keyboard or USB controller, and we have a TON of games. (Take this down if it breaks any rules please) SilverMagpie (talk) 01:33, 26 November 2018 (UTC)

Why is the character being named "Red" ironic? Because he's in a game also called "Red"? That is not irony. Nitpicking (talk) 03:54, 29 November 2021 (UTC)

The link to the page about the Helix Spiral needs to be updated. 23:35, 17 April 2024 (talk) 03:35, 18 April 2024 (UTC!) (please sign your comments with ~~~~)