Reddit hosts what is arguably the internet’s healthiest fan war

Who made this amazing pixel art from Elden Ring‘s Ranni sits next to the main character of Hollow Knight, and why? The answer is r/Place, a Reddit battleground where anyone can place a dot and change the course of meme history. In an era where so much of the modern internet is trash, r/Place has made a comeback and it’s still very cool.

Part April Fools’ Day, part sociological experiment, the internet pixel mural Place is back after a five-year hiatus and bigger than ever. It originally debuted in 2017 with one simple conceit: let random internet users collaborate on a piece of art, but only have them post one pixel every five minutes. The results ranged from the expected to the bizarre. Some people helped make Van Gogh’s starry night† Others created a great black void, with similar anomalies taking on a story of their own as users reacted to what unfolded in real time. The idea belonged to Josh Wardle, a Reddit employee at the time who you may now know as the creator of wordle

Now r/Place is back, double the size and reflecting the last half decade of online culture and technology development in the process. Fans have been fighting across the blank canvas for the past four days to show solidarity with Ukraine and trans rights, praise meme shares and troll each other’s fandoms. It has led to strange feuds and unlikely alliances as various parts of the internet and major online personalities engage in real-time takeovers.

An overview of some of the weirder team-ups reported on Fanbyte shows Spyro fans trying to join forces with Community fans, and To deny fans contacting Kingdom Hearts fans. Not being able to compete on a large scale, most groups settle for the minimal real estate they need to properly convey an emblem of their fandom in pixels. To be extra efficient, some groups have fused or taken images together to protect existing artworks within the confines of larger acquisitions.

A Final Fantasy XIV logo has been at coordinates 1274 x 534 for over a day now. Hollow Knight fans are trying an ode to silk song, the highly anticipated sequel to the game. “Our top priority is to fix Hornet’s needle in Silksong,” wrote one of the fans who joined forces on Discord. “Need help with wire,” replied another. Meanwhile, the Elden Ring community came together to create an Erdtree that is part of it Hollow Knight radiation.

Twitch’s Just Chat category is currently dominated by streamers pushing their followers to ambush different pieces or protect their own pieces. Some people claim to stay up all night to protect their creations, while others claim fraud caused by an influx of bots. As a weird example, Streamer Félix “xQc” Lengyel had a run-in with a bunch of French users whom he accused of being fake accounts. At the same time, streamer Jack Manifold tried to get users to use red and blue to give each character in the mural 3D glasses† To others, it seemed as if the French colors were spreading.

Because the mural is constantly changing and the masterstrokes are coordinated across Twitch streams, other subreddits, or dedicated Discords, it’s incredibly difficult to track the micro-history of who’s doing what and why. But at any given moment, it looks like an elaborate tapestry reflecting the microcosm of Internet popularity from Among us nasty Blaseball

“It’s a bit addictive trying to protect the piece you’re building,” pixel artist Nyan Cat told me. The Washington Post† “It’s like a turf war, but it’s also a social statement. For example, we have to defend this little penguin here in the corner from that guy who’s throwing purple spots on it.”

r/Place will shut down sometime on April 4, after which the triumphs and defeats of each community will be locked up for good. Understandably, the pressure builds as things draw to a close. Wrote a person on the Hollow Knight Discord, “I’m sorry to ALL THE NEW PEOPLE AND VISITORS I swear we used to be nicer, this is only getting stressful now that we’re nearing the end.”


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