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