How a simple computer game of cascading geometric shapes became a worldwide phenomenon.
In 1984, Alexey Pajitnov, a “lone computer scientist at the Russian Academy of Sciences,” invented “Tetris,” the massively popular computer game that combines hand-eye coordination and geometry. Impressively, he created it during his off hours using what today would be considered primitive software and antiquated computers. When the game was reprogrammed to work on Nintendo’s Game Boy, making it accessible to almost everyone with a handheld console, it took off. As CNET section editor Ackerman notes, “it’s estimated that the dozens of official versions of Tetris have generated more than $1 billion in lifetime sales, and the game’s legacy has directly influenced time-sucking moneymakers from Bejeweled to Candy Crush Saga.” The author provides a meticulous accounting of the rise of “Tetris” from its earliest inception to its release from behind Russia’s walls and into the rest of the computer world. He details the background of Pajitnov and Henk Rogers, a Dutch-born computer programmer who had worked in his family’s gem business for years before following his passion with computers and eventually inventing the role-playing game “The Black Onyx.” Ackerman also includes side notes on how the playing of “Tetris” alters the brain—not necessarily in a good way—and how addictive the game can be. For those fascinated with the way video games are created and intrigued by the history of early computers, the book will provide great entertainment, just like the game. However, most ordinary players of “Tetris” will get bogged down in the nitty-gritty details that Ackerman includes in his exhaustive reporting of a game that “is everything from a cultural shorthand for crowded elevators, closets, and parking lots to the first game many people download on their new tablets and smartphones.”
An all-inclusive history behind one of the most popular video games ever.