The His­tory Of Tetris

Alexey Pa­jit­nov and Henk Rogers re­veal how an 8-bit puz­zler dom­i­nated the world

Retro Gamer - - CONTENTS - Words by David Crookes

There are some videogames out there that are in­cred­i­bly dif­fi­cult to tear your­self away from. We’re also aware that games can dis­tract you from life’s more te­dious tasks. What to make of Tetris, then? A puz­zler that gets so in­side your brain, it can lead to the med­i­cally recog­nised ‘Tetris Ef­fect’ – where you play so much of the game you ac­tu­ally start hal­lu­ci­nat­ing tetro­mi­noes in your day-to-day life. Yet it’s a run­away bestseller that’s es­sen­tially about tidy­ing up the play­field over and over again. Clean­ing, we imag­ine, has never been so suc­cess­ful.

It was a strong pair­ing of de­vel­op­ers which saw this iconic puz­zler reach dizzy­ing, mul­timil­lion-sell­ing heights, and it ended up in the slippy mitts of so many peo­ple and com­pa­nies that the en­tire western li­cens­ing deal could eas­ily be­come the ba­sis of a grip­ping hol­i­day page-turner. Never mind that it’s al­ready been the sub­ject of a BBC doc­u­men­tary, Tetris: From Rus­sia With Love, Tetris’ ori­gin story is richer than a Rus­sian oli­garch.

To go into the ins and outs of what hap­pened be­tween 1984 and 1989 would likely take over the en­tirety of this is­sue. Suf­fice to say 29-year-old Rus­sian com­puter en­gi­neer Alexey Pa­jit­nov toiled on his hum­ble Elek­tron­ica 60 com­puter at the Soviet Academy Of Sci­ences in Moscow and cre­ated a pro­to­type of an in­trigu­ing puz­zle game that would even­tu­ally be fought over by com­pa­nies such as Nin­tendo, Mir­ror­soft, Spec­trum Holobyte, An­dromeda and

Bul­let-proof Soft­ware.

The break­through was a PC ver­sion in 1985, cre­ated by Alexey with the help of col­league Dmitry Pavlovsky and a young pro­gram­mer called Vadim Gerasi­mov.

The whole she­bang had been in­spired by the board game, Pen­tomi­noes, which in­volved putting 12 types of five-square pen­tomino pieces on to an 8x8 grid, ro­tat­ing and re­flect­ing them to fit with­out over­lap­ping. Alexey re­alised that 12 pieces was too much – “Peo­ple would not be able to re­mem­ber so many,” he says – so he ditched pen­tomi­noes for tetro­mi­noes (geo­met­ric shapes com­posed of four squares con­nected

Henk Rogers Man­ag­ing di­rec­tor, The Tetris Com­pany

MAYA Rogers Pres­i­dent and CEO, Blue Planet Soft­ware

Alexey Pa­jit­nov Cre­ator of Tetris

» Tetris’ pop­u­lar­ity sky­rock­eted with the Game Boy ver­sion. It would go on to be­come the hand­held’s best­selling ti­tle.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from UK

© PressReader. All rights reserved.