Actor Taron Egerton is returning to the screen for some more fun and games as he portrays video game designer and publisher Henk Rogers in Apple TV’s upcoming film Tetris. Just as addicting as today’s web-based game called Wordle, Tetris was once the most popular game in recent history and contributed greatly to the phenomenon of the pop culture video game entertainment industry. The story behind Tetris is just as spellbinding.
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The History of Tetris
In 1984, a Soviet software engineer named Alexey Pajitnov created Tetris. Alexey Pajotniv (played by actor Nikita Efremov) had a personality that was just as unique as his imagination; he had a vision to use computers as a tool to make people happy, specifically through the effect puzzles have on the human brain. He created what is called “tetrominoes” into seven variants that would descend from the top of a field into a grounded base. Before reaching the ground level of the field, the player would maneuver and rotate each piece laterally to fill rows and create as many horizontal lines of blocks as possible. When a horizontal line of blocks is completed, it vanishes, giving more time and space for the player to use the incoming pieces to create more horizontal lines of blocks. The more blocks of lines a player would create, the more points and levels the player would gain. Without creating blocks of lines in time, however, the pieces would eventually fill up to the very top of the field, giving the incoming pieces zero space for placement, and therefore, ending the game to the player’s failure.
On paper, Tetris appeared a bit confusing, but the visual illustration of the game ultimately left the world wanting more. The simplicity of Tetris unleashed a global addiction, but the addiction is what unleashed the complication of money, greed, and power. Beginning its run in Moscow and across the Soviet Union, Tetris soon after launched on PCs in North America and Europe.
In 1988, after discovering the game at a Las Vegas trade show, Henk Rogers' company called Bullet-Proof Software sold over two million copies on the PC and NES in Japan. In 1989, after meeting and becoming friends with Alexey Pajitnov, Henk secured the handheld rights to Tetris and licensed those rights to Nintendo. In 1996, the rights reverted back to Pajitnov, and at last he co-founded the Tetris Company and agreed to have Henk Rogers manage licensing. This was the beginning of a virtual landmark that would be ingrained in every newly created mobile and video game device for decades to come. Tetris. It is one word stemming from the past, and it is still with us here, now, in the present.
What to Expect
“It’s poetry. Art and math… all working in magical synchronicity, it’s…the perfect game.” Perhaps not as addictive and fast-paced as the game in literal senses, Tetris will most likely deliver a personified interpretation of what the game entails; twists and turns, last second miracles, moments of utter frustration, and fast-paced moments that may get your heart rate racing a few extra beats per minute. Truly, thrilling entertainment is to be expected. Yet, underneath those surfaced feelings of exhilaration, and on the other side of simulated escapism, is an opportunity for Tetris to bring the pieces back down to earth without letting them disappear.
How the Pieces Fall Into Place
Perhaps we can get an autopsy of what it is about Tetris that mirrors our nostalgia of pop culture yet simultaneously grips technological progression. Not only that, Tetris also symbolizes a sort of unity between the nation where it all began, the Soviet Union, and the nation where it all progressed, Western Europe and America. On the contrary, while video games can be unifying and celebratory, it can also evoke volatility and polarization. In modern day society, Tetris to some just might set a reminder of the division between Russia and the West, figuratively speaking, where the pieces don’t fit together; instead the pieces continue to suffocate until everything bursts, crumbles, and falls apart. The point is, the timing of Apple TV’s Tetris is just as interesting and compelling as the history of such a timeless game. Let’s hope the storytelling and overall execution of the film capitalizes on the significance Tetris has played on our history.
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