Tetris – 10 Things You Never Knew About The Origins Of Tetris
Tetris is one of the most successful and popular video games of all time. Such a simple idea has sustained the puzzle game for more than thirty years, and it does not seem like it will go away anytime soon. Getting Tetris to where it is today was not as simple as programming the title and releasing it to the masses, however.
From its inception to its release in the United States, Tetris went through a lot. The Russian puzzle game may not have a plot, but the story behind it is incredibly interesting. The ten facts below will most certainly accentuate one’s appreciation of Tetris.
10 Its Inspiration
The idea of fitting separate pieces together came to Tetris creator Alexey Pajitnov from his love of Pentomino puzzle games. In these home games, separate pieces made up of five blocks are supposed to be arranged to fit together.
Making this directly as a video game proved to be no fun, so dropping the blocks down added the pressure of time while the disappearing lines gave a sense of satisfaction and made games last potentially forever.
9 Game Development In Russia At The Time
In an interview with Adam Sessler, Alexey Pajitnov talks about game development in Russia at the time of Tetris’ creation in 1984. More accurately, he talks about how it essentially did not exist. No companies were developing video games and no industry was selling them.
The most famous game console in Russia, the Dendy, would not be produced until 1992. This background of gaming the Soviet Union would play into the difficulties publishing it later on.
8 Vadim Gerasimov
While Alexey Pajitnov is the creator behind Tetris, he received some help along the way, even before it came time to try and sell the product. When he wanted to port the game to other computers, he enlisted the help of Vadim Gerasimov.
Only sixteen years old at the time, Gerasimov was already a star programmer, and helped Pajitnov port the game with lightning speed to an IBM computer. He has since moved to the United States and is now working at Google.
7 It Was Made To Test Out Hardware
If gaming was a nonexistent industry in the early ’80s, why did Alexey Pajitnov make the game in the first place? Its main purpose was to test out hardware, though this was more of an excuse to play games. He worked at a research center where he and his colleagues had the opportunity to work on their own projects after typical work hours.
While his main purpose was researching artificial intelligence, many of his coworkers were also fascinated with games, which led to them using the tech to make leisure titles.
6 The Name
The name Tetris comes from two separate places. Tetra means four, which makes sense considering each piece is made of four blocks. The other inspiration comes from Tennis, which is Alexey Pajitnov’s favorite sport.
While the latter does not really make that much sense in relation to the actual game, it helped create a new word and forever changed the landscape of gaming. In today’s gaming world, creating a new word would certainly help with Google search results.
5 Robert Stein
The first person to take any interest in bringing Tetris to the west was Robert Stein. The game eventually made its way to Hungary, which was still a part of the Soviet Union at the time.
Robert Stein would often visit Budapest to look for Eastern European software and bring it out from behind the iron curtain. Stein eventually saw an employee of the computer institute he visited playing the game and wanted to bring it to western audiences.
4 The Computers It Was Made On Were Already Outdated
In the early ’80s, computer technology was still in its infancy. Even with this considered, the computer Tetris was made on was already severely outdated. The game was first programmed for the Electronika 60, which was an imitation of the west’s PDP-11.
Unfortunately, this computer was already outdated by the time it was cloned and brought to the Soviet Union. On the bright side, it did not take a lot of processing power to make Tetris run, which is a part of its genius.
3 Publishing Issues
Getting Tetris published in the west was a huge issue. Rights became a headache with huge legal ramifications when Robert Stein sold the publishing rights before actually securing the rights.
In 1988, the issues were smoothed out, but this did not secure consoles or arcade machines. Henk Rogers eventually secured the rights for consoles for Nintendo, which led to its iconic release alongside the Game Boy, a version that includes multiplayer.
2 Pajitnov’s Royalties
As Tetris was made during company time in the Soviet Union, Alexey Pajitnov did not receive any financial compensation for creating one of the most legendary games of all time. He almost got in some serious trouble when it was found out he was potentially negotiating business transactions with Robert Stein.
Only in 1996 did the creator eventually start receiving royalties. He set up The Tetris Company with Henk Rogers, which licenses the game out to third parties.
1 The Sequel
While Tetris is the game everybody talks about, sequels actually came to fruition. The first of these was Welltris, which retains the same concept but adds a three-dimensional angle. The perspective is shown from the top looking down instead of from the side.
The game was received well, though some criticisms were lobbied towards certain versions’ controls. At the end of the day, it failed to catch on in the same way Tetris did.
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