You win some, you lose some. Some days you eat the bear, some days the bear eats you. Long have these sorts of aphorisms existed in the cultural lexicon. Now, thanks to popular streamer Jeremy “DisguisedToast” Wang, we’ve got a new one: sometimes you catch the shiny Pokémon as part of two streams that last a total of 15 hours, sometimes you give your streaming audience £3,875.
Earlier this week Wang, a streamer known for his skill in games like Hearthstone and Teamfight Tactics, decided to go shiny hunting in Pokémon Shield. His goal? To catch a rare shiny variant of Wooloo, a Pokémon that looks like a sheep who’s trying a little harder than other sheep. If he failed, he promised to gift his viewers 1,000 subscriptions to his channel, which totals out to roughly five thousand American dollars in value.
He began his hunt through the game’s verdant hills with a joking sort of braggadocio. “Today’s goal is simple, chat. Very simple,” he said at the outset of his first stream. “All we gotta do is catch ourselves one of them shiny Pokemans. It’s very easy to do. What you do is you just keep killing Wooloos over and over again... So much Wooloos, chat. We’re gonna get a shiny Pokémon in no time.”
He then acknowledged that, given the rarity of the Pokémon involved, these sorts of hunts can often take 10 hours or more. But, he said with a chuckle, his experience with games like Hearthstone was sure to see him through the challenge in no time. “The difference here is, I specialize in RNG games, so I have an inherent advantage,” he said.
On his first day, he spent six consecutive hours battling Wooloos in the same environment, but he was unable to catch a shiny. Despite that, he began day two in high spirits. “I am confident that we will eventually end up with a shiny Wooloo,” he said. “I just don’t know when that’s gonna be.”
However, he also made a statement that, in hindsight, can only be viewed as prophetic: “Somebody is gonna watch this... They’re gonna watch the beginning and see my optimism. They’re gonna laugh and think ‘He doesn’t know what he’s getting himself into.’”
Seven hours later, Wang found himself circling the drain. “I’m starting to consider the plan of unlisting the stream and taking a nap,” he said from somewhere off-camera, with only the dim light of his streaming room in view. “I don’t want to give up. As long as I don’t end the stream, I technically have not given up.”
“Man, I’m never gonna be able to look at sheep the same way again,” he added.
Wang managed to last two more hours before he threw in the towel. “I’ll gift out the subs. I’ll gift out the subs,” he said with a sleepy note of resignation in his voice. “Alright chat, 1,000 subs incoming.”
He then proceeded to purchase those subscriptions in individual packs of 100, because that’s the maximum number Twitch allows people to buy, and his suffering could not be allowed to end yet.
These sorts of endurance-testing streams can be entertaining, but they can also be gruelling—especially if done regularly. In 2017, one streamer died during a 24- hour marathon stream, and others have written about the way such streams caused them to disregard their own health. That these things are allowed is a flaw of Twitch’s rule-making, and as a result, streamers continually push the limits of health and safety to attract viewers. Fortunately, Wang broke his marathon into multiple, relatively sane sessions, with the sheer tedium of the activity he’d chosen to perform and his reactions providing much of the entertainment value. Still, even a nine-hour session can take a toll and can contribute to a broader culture of boundary-pushing stunts. I had fun watching the VOD of Wang’s stream. He’s a smart, funny guy who seems more aware than most of his position of wealth and influence, and there’s a perverse amusement to be found in watching people like him bang their heads against challenges with no end in sight. But it’s always worth considering the kind of physical and emotional labour streamers are putting in for your entertainment.
Despite admitting defeat on stream and putting his money where his mouth is, Wang is not finished with his hunt. He still has his eyes on the prize. “This is not the end,” he said shortly before wrapping up the second day of his stream. “I’m going to get the shiny Wooloo no matter what. There is nothing that will keep me from the shiny Wooloo.”