Something fishy is going on in the world of Pokémon streaming and it is credit card fraud.
A popular Japan-based YouTube streamer known as Mutekimaru Channel, which specializes in having fish play video games – yes, you read that correctly – managed to somehow have fish that were playing one of the latest games in the massively popular Pokémon franchise, Pokémon Violet, exit the game, access the Nintendo eShop, reveal the Mutekimaru's credit card information and make several purchases and then shut down the system entirely, as first reported by news outlet SoraNews24 and detailed in clips shared by Mutekimaru Channel on social media.
Again, you read that correctly.
But how did any of this happen? How did fish manage to commit credit card fraud and make purchases on the Nintendo eShop? How did fish manage to play video games in the first place?
Well, let's answer these one at a time.
How did fish manage to play Pokémon?
The idea of fish playing video games is rather shocking considering how they are often thought of as some of the least-intelligent animals around. But this may not be entirely true with scientists at Israel's Ben-Gurion University having even taught a fish how to drive, for example. Still, they're certainly not intelligent or even large enough to operate a Nintendo Switch – which wouldn't be operational underwater anyway.
And yet, this is what Mutekimaru Channel specializes in.
Years ago, the channel set up a camera in an aquarium of Siamese fighting fish (also known as Bettas), the feed from which showed the aquarium divided into different sections which corresponded to buttons on the Nintendo Switch controller. Essentially, when the fish stopped swimming in certain sections, an automated system registered that as them pressing the corresponding button, and thus, they played video games.
This has been wildly successful for the channel as it essentially allows the fish to play video games, or specifically Pokémon. This game specifically is ideal because it doesn't require constant maneuvering in synch with the game's environment, as at its core, the Pokémon series is a turn-based JRPG that only requires button pressing theoretically at one's convenience – with one of the more recent installments, Pokémon Legends: Arceus, being an exception.
It also helps that Pokémon is known for not really being a very difficult series in general – if you ever needed any proof of that, it is literally possible for fish to accidentally end up beating a Pokémon game. In fact, they've done it six times.
The idea of fish playing also isn't wholly unprecedented, believe it or not.
In 2014, an anonymous Australian programmer created an amusing experiment called Twitch Plays Pokémon, where Pokémon Red, one of the first games in the series, would be streamed on Twitch and the 1,165,140 different participants in the Twitch stream chat all would send different commands to essentially play the game.
The game was beaten in a little over 16 days.
There are also other cases of animals playing video games. One Hungarian neuroscientist managed to train rats to play the 1994 first-person shooter game Doom II and researchers in the United Kingdom managed to train pigs to play arcade video games.
So in other words, if you think about it, it makes sense that fish are able to play Pokémon.
How did fish commit credit card fraud?
This is where things get crazy.
So, ordinarily, the fish are only able to access the relevant buttons on the Nintendo Switch console. This is how they play the game.
However, Mutekimaru Channel seemingly forgot something that Pokémon fans worldwide are constantly reminded of: The new Pokémon games, Pokémon Scarlet and Pokémon Violet, are still filled with bugs and glitches.
Glitches have been in Pokémon games since the very beginning, some harder to find than others – in fact, Mutekimaru Channel's fish gamers have actually managed to find glitches in Pokémon Sapphire and Pokémon Sword.
But the glitches in Pokémon Violent and Pokémon Scarlet are on another level entirely. Character models completely glitching out are just some of the many reported bugs that have gone viral among the Pokémon fan community over social media.
And unfortunately for the person behind the Mutekimaru Channel, one of those glitches happens to be having the game suddenly just shut down and close, taking gamers back to the Nintendo Switch home screen.
And this is how the credit card crime caper commenced.
The human behind the channel happened to be out of the house that day and the fish were left to their own devices. This meant that, unhampered by human interference, they were able to keep accessing the buttons on the controller, which let them enter the Nintendo eShop. Since the human's credit card information was already saved, the fish were able to make several purchases, such as a Nintendo 64 emulator and cosmetics for the game Nintendo Switch Sports. It also changed the user's account name.
All this while doxxing the streamer, revealing to viewers their credit card details.
It wasn't long before the streamer was aware of what happened – the Nintendo eShop sends emails after each purchase.
Mutekimaru Channel even took it in stride, making a very funny YouTube video with hilarious captions detailing the incident.
Reportedly, Nintendo granted a subsequent request by the streamer for a refund – after all, there was literally video evidence of fish making these purchases.
But in a way, this shocking case of a fish-based security breach, aside from serving as a reminder to be careful about saving credit card information and a warning about the possibility of fish committing credit card fraud, serves as a sort of capstone to the many tens of thousands of gameplay hours that Mutekimaru Channel has hosted – since they're going to soon come to an end.
As explained in a later video, fish-based gameplay will end following their playthrough of Pokémon Violet. The reason has nothing to do with the credit card fraud though – the pets are just moving to the streamer's parents' home. The YouTube channel, therefore, will take a different, less fish-gaming-oriented, direction.
The Jerusalem Post has reached out to the Mutekimaru Channel – the human, not the fish, though we would accept the latter as well – for comment.