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Posted on September 1, 2010, 1:39 am

"The game that taught the world it was hip to be square

If you're one of the few people who hasn't played Tetris, you may scoff at the very notion of a game being so addictive that you keep playing it in your mind long after the power has been turned off. The fact is though, many who have been bitten by the Tetris bug in the past has indeed experienced this phenomenon - that's how dangerously compulsive this puzzle classic can be.

When Nintendo first released the Game Boy back in the very late 1980s, Super Mario Land was still a few months from completion so the company needed a launch game that would really catch the public's imagination. That game was Tetris. Created by Russian programmer Alexey Pajitnov, it was inspired by a puzzle that he came across in a charity shop near his home.

This puzzle was just a plain box containing shapes made out of five squares, and the aim was to make a rectangle using all of the shapes.

Pajitnov decided to see if this would work on a computer. He made things less complex by using shapes made out of only four squares and created a game where the player had to arrange them neatly as they fell from the sky. If you completed a full, unbroken line of squares the line would disappear and you could keep playing until, ultimately, the blocks fell too quickly and stacked to the top of the screen.

Despite (or maybe because of) its simplicity, Tetris remains one of the most addictive games ever made and there have even been full scientific studies to determine exactly what it is that makes Tetris, of all games, so compelling to people of all ages and genders.

Some people claim that its appeal lies in the player's desire for order and cleanliness. Broadly speaking, the theory goes that a player's need to fit the falling blocks together in Tetris satisfies a natural instinct to control things and ensure that their environment is exactly as they would like it to be. Some have cheekily added that this need to make things neat and tidy is why the game proves particularly popular among women, though we wouldn't like to risk losing any of our female readership by openly supporting that theory!

One expert has even been bold enough to hypothesise that Tetris is an extended metaphor for living conditions in the Soviet Union, the game's birthplace, in that the player would constantly work hard to keep things running smoothly but ultimately fail, because the blocks would always get to the top eventually.

Perhaps Pajitnov himself gave the best reason for the game's enduring popularity in an interview a decade ago, where he stated that the game is so addictive because all the obstacles, all the tricky moments and all the Game Overs are caused by things the player has done over the course of the game. As you play, your past mistakes are constantly on display and this drives you on to make amends and wipe the slate clean.

It has been over two decades since Tetris originally appeared on the Game Boy and many millions of people still play it to this very day. We're no gamblers, but we'd put everything we have on it still being played another two decades from now.

Tetris Party Deluxe will be released for Wii and DS this Friday."


Comment by jemm_4 on September 10, 2010, 9:39 pm
haha i couldnt agree more mom :(
Comment by ManOfMiracles on September 2, 2010, 5:36 pm
Comment by azn_papirus on September 1, 2010, 11:51 am
haha, @MoM
Comment by ManOfMiracles on September 1, 2010, 7:19 am
I remember before i started tetris i laughed at all the youtube vidoes with tetris pros and said they had no lives... now look at me :(

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