Choice Chamber

Michael Molinari empowers Twitch viewers

Anatomy of a Choice Chamber Twitch stream

Some subcultures define a generation: hippies, punks, and, more recently, nerds. Others remain invisible to the general public. The Twitch community resides in the latter category despite its exploding popularity. The streaming site pulls the fourth-largest amount of Internet traffic during peak hours – Netflix, Google, and Apple sit in the top three spots – and yet is barely known outside of gaming circles.

To put Twitch's raison d'être on a bumper sticker: The site enables video game enthusiasts to live-stream play sessions while an accompanying chat room encourages viewers to share their thoughts in real time. Popular streamers have hundreds of thousands of followers and make five- and sometimes six-digit salaries from subscriptions to their channel.

The relationship between streamers and viewers is largely one-way, however. The chat often moves so quickly that communicating anything to the streamer (who is usually also busy playing a game) can be nigh impossible. Cedar Park's Michael Molinari (aka OneMrBean) is turning the tables with a game-changing game for game-streamers.

It started a year-and-a-half ago when Molinari started developing Choice Chamber, which incorporates Twitch's chat into the game. Soon he was streaming the project-in-progress to test out ideas. "I could see what works and what doesn't," Molinari explains. "This idea hadn't been done before, so I had no one to rip off, which I would have loved to do." Despite a lack of predecessors, Choice Chamber was released last month and immediately embraced by some of Twitch's biggest stars. Who needs advertising when you have thousands of people watching their idols have a blast playing your game?

Choice Chamber might appear to be a standard game: a hero with a weapon jumping around obliterating baddies. However, when streamed on Twitch, the viewers decide on what weapon, the style of jump, the type of baddies, and even the shape of the levels. By soliciting votes in the chat room and tallying them, Choice Chamber lets the once-powerless viewers assist or curse their favorite Twitch personalities, or just their pal who happens to be streaming that day. Individuals can even be randomly chosen as the room captain and drop helpful items or deadly bombs on the player. "I just smile like a villain whenever something goes really wrong for someone," Molinari willingly admits. "Welcome to Choice Chamber. This is what you get.'"

All's fair in Molinari's creation. The spikes and fireballs that claim the lives of so many heroes can also kill enemies. Conversely, the game's "gizmos," which are partially controlled by an individual viewer, aren't always helpful. In the heat of a fast-paced battle, those same gizmos can find themselves in the wrong place at the wrong time and cost the player a life. "They're not called 'helpers' on purpose," Molinari says.

While tight-lipped about upcoming additional content for his game ("I'm working with ... someone ... on a thing"), Molinari continues to stream his game every week and slowly create an empowered subculture within a subculture.

Choice Chamber

Available for PC

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Choice Chamber, Mike Molinari, OneMrBean, Twitch

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