First there was Salty Bet, the 24/7 Twitch stream where AI-controlled fighting game characters do battle with one another in front of an audience who can bet on the winner with fake money. Now there is Spelunky Death Roulette, a similar wrapper for a group of Twitch streams where viewers can use fake money to bet on how they think the player will die.
The fun of SaltyBet lies in the absurd cast of potential characters, and in the stream’s soundtrack of early ’90s hip-hop and Saturday morning cartoon theme tunes. It’s a thing you put on in the background while you work, and then spend the morning doing no work while losing all your money to Dragonball Z characters.
Spelunky is different. Advancing in the tightly-wound roguelike platformer means learning the careful rules of its vast menagerie of traps and enemies, and death, when it happens, tends to be panicked and hilarious. Watching real people play it is already entertaining all on its own, without the soundtrack or the betting, as evidenced by the Spelunky Explorer’s Club, where friends of Gunpoint-creator Tom Francis play each day’s unique Daily Challenge, share the video and compare notes.
The betting mechanic is a way to give deaths meaning to viewers when the attempt isn’t on the one-time-only Daily Challenge, but the normal Adventure mode, where lives are often cheap and short. It works.
ALWAYS BET ON FROGS.