The mathematical concept of Pi can now play Pokemon, but still can't find the first gym after 16,000 hours of trying

 Pi Plays Pokemon Sapphire.
Pi Plays Pokemon Sapphire.

Pi - the number, shown by the symbol π - has often been said to contain the complete works of Shakespeare within its infinitely flowing digits. Mathematicians still don't know if that's actually true, but after 759 days, one streamer has proven that Pi contains a 16,000 hour Pokemon Sapphire player that keeps getting stuck in the starting town.

The theory goes that, since Pi contains an infinite series of seemingly random digits, if you calculate it far enough it should be seen to contain every possible sequence of numbers, including strings that would translate to the works of Shakespeare, your childhood diary, or a recipe for a really good apple pie. Even after calculating Pi to 100 trillion digits, mathematicians still can't prove that the distribution of numbers is truly random, so this idea does remain purely theoretical.

Inspired by that theory - plus things like Twitch Plays Pokemon and that Siamese fighting fish which beat Pokemon Ruby and Sapphire - a Twitch channel called WinningSequence started running 'Pi Plays Pokemon Sapphire' in October 2021. "Every digit between 0-9 is mapped to a button and fed into the game per each second, making the number in question automatically play the game," according to the channel description.

As of this story, Pi Plays Pokemon Sapphire has run through nearly 62.3 million digits, and still hasn't managed to leave the starting town. It's regularly gotten to the opening route, fighting enough random battles to get its Sceptile up to level 77, and it's even made it up to Oldale Town and Route 103 at least once, but it keeps getting stuck back in Littleroot Town. That's not amazing progress, admittedly, but that Sceptile will absolutely rock the starting gym if it ever gets a chance to fight.

I think the most fascinating bit of all this is the fact that a consistent little community has popped up around the stream. It's got around 80 viewers as I write this, many of them casually chatting about Pi's progress, or lack thereof. The YouTube VODs of the stream often reach over 1,000 views, which is… a lot, for a series of 12 hour videos featuring a number causing random button presses in a GBA Pokemon game.

Just remember - AI is making only slightly better progress at playing Pokemon than a random sequence of numbers.