Tetris is a classic video game that has been entertaining players for decades. It was first created in 1984 by a Russian game designer named Alexey Pajitnov. The game involves maneuvering a set of geometric shapes, known as tetrominoes, that fall from the top of the game screen to the bottom.
The objective of Tetris is to manipulate these shapes by moving and rotating them so that they form complete horizontal lines without any gaps. When a line is completed, it disappears, and the player earns points. The game gets progressively more challenging as the tetrominoes fall faster and the playfield fills up.
Tetris quickly became a cultural phenomenon, and it has been adapted to almost every gaming platform imaginable, including arcade machines, home video game consoles, and mobile devices. Its simple yet addictive gameplay and iconic music have made it a favorite among gamers of all ages and skill levels, and it continues to be one of the most popular video games of all time.
Here are five fascinating facts about one of the most popular video game franchises ever – Tetris!
- Tetris has even been played on the sides of buildings. (source) It was in 2014 that the gaming department at Drexel University played Tetris by using LED lights that covered both the north and south ends of their Cira Centra building on campus. It was part of Philly Tech Week, and actually broke the prior record for having the world’s largest working game of Tetris. The previous record had been set in 1995 by Dutch students at the Delft University of Technology, when they lit up 15 floors of the building for their Electrical Engineering Department.
- Tetris was the first video game in space. (source) Back in 1993, Russian cosmonaut Aleksandr Serebrove went on the Soyuz TM 17 rocket on a mission to the space station Mir, and he didn’t go empty-handed. He brought his Nintendo Game Boy along with a Tetris cartridge. It would eventually go on to sell at an auction on May 5, 2011 by Bonham’s Auction House. According to Bonham, the Game Boy was in space for approximately 196 days, and orbited the Earth more than 3,000 times. Aleksandr Serebrove was even quoted as saying, “Like all cosmonauts, I love sport. My particular favorites are football and swimming. During flight, in rare minutes of leisure, I enjoyed playing Game Boy.”
- Tetris has been used to treat PTSD. (source) Researchers from both the University of Oxford and at Karolinska Institutet, as well as other institutions have spent time studying the effects of utilizing Tetris as a method of treating trauma in patients. Per their findings, the visual stimulus that comes along with Tetris was found to reduce the intrusive memories associated with trauma when playing Tetris shortly after an event. In simpler terms, the theory by researchers is that by playing Tetris, a traumatic event can evolve into a loop in the memory and allows the brain to think of something else instead.
- Despite being developed more than decade prior, the creator of Tetris didn’t see royalties until 1996. (source) Being bundled with a popular handheld device like the Nintendo Game Boy will certainly get your game played by millions and millions of people worldwide. Tetris became a worldwide phenomenon, however it would be several years before the creator of Tetris, Soviet software engineer Alexey Pajitnov would even see any royalties for the game. As the story goes, Pajitnov gave the rights to the game to the Russian government for the first two years, which meant it became one of the first pieces of software to be exported by the Soviet Union. He developed the game in 1985, and in 1996 founded what the Tetris Company, which today continues to license the game out to third parties and owns the rights to Tetris on a global level.
- Tetris has been featured in several movies and TV shows. (source) Movies like Back To The Future Part II, Total Recall and X-Men Origins: Wolverine have featured Tetris, as well as television shows like South Park and Family Guy. Not only that, but in 2023, Apple TV released an exclusive film appropriately titled “Tetris.”
Tetris is one of the most storied video game franchises in history, and has remained one of the most popular video games out there for nearly forty years now. If you have any more fun facts to share with us about Tetris, let us know in the comments section!
Featured image photo credit: Sammlung der Medien und Wissenschaft, 2019. Originally found on Wikimedia.org. Image was resized and cropped. Creative Commons 4.0.