“It’s one of the most ad­dic­tive games this writer has ever played”

The Irish Times - Friday - The Ticket - - Games & Apps -

games and Nin­tendo it­self.

Here’s a good ad for in­vest­ment in the tech in­dus­try: Tetris was de­signed by Alexey Pa­jit­nov while he was work­ing in a Soviet gov­ern­ment-funded R&D cen­tre. For those that need re­mind­ing, the game is a block-jig­saw af­fair, in which dif­fer­ent blocks fall down the screen and have to be placed into their cor­rect slots in real time.

Af­ter ap­pear­ing on IBM’s home com­put­ers, it ex­ploded in pop­u­lar­ity across Rus­sia. And, fol­low­ing some legal wran­gling, it be­came a cross-plat­form in­ter­na­tional sen­sa­tion, break­ing sales records and gob­bling up su­perla­tives from the me­dia.

It re­mains one of the most ad­dic­tive games this writer has ever played. By 1989, when nu­mer­ous com­pa­nies owned the rights to the game, Nin­tendo de­cided to give Tetris as part of the pack­age for ev­ery Game Boy.

I dare say it’s im­pos­si­ble to mea­sure how many peo­ple have played Tetris, con­sid­er­ing it’s been avail­able for nearly three decades, on com­put­ers, phones, con­soles and other me­dia de­vices (in­clud­ing on some cal­cu­la­tors, within other games, and on some MP3 play­ers). That’s not to men­tion the nu­mer­ous il­le­gal copies of it on­line. To put it an­other way, the 100 mil­lion sales of Tetris for EA Mo­bile and 2.5 mil­lion units shipped for Nin­tendo’s DS are a drop in the ocean.

Its in­flu­ence is ev­ery­where, es­pe­cially in ca­sual games such as Mad Blocker Al­pha and Zuma. Tetris has ap­peared in movies, game shows and has been played on the side of sky­scrapers. Even the game’s blocks are well-known, with the L-block win­ning an on­line poll for best videogame char­ac­ter.

Else­where, its catchy theme mu­sic has been turned into a dance track (partly pro­duced by Andrew Lloyd Web­ber), per­formed by or­ches­tras and used in the movies Bo­rat and Snatch.

Like many gam­ing suc­cess sto­ries, the suc­cess of Tetris is that it ap­plies the key prin­ci­ple of a good videogame: easy to learn, im­pos­si­ble to mas­ter.

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