Tetris: The Games People Play

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In 1984, Soviet software developer Alexey Pajitnov created Tetris. A highly addictive video game (I’m certainly speaking from my own personal experience) that constantly rewards the player for correctly shifting falling puzzle pieces and “clearing lines”. In Tetris: The Games People Play, author/artist Box Brown dips into that a little further by fleshing out intriguing historical details and adding his own philosophical discourse about the nature of the game designer as both artist and inadvertent champion of human behavioral development. Brown’s artistic talents lend themselves quite deftly to the material at hand and his simple uncluttered panels and clearly defined aesthetic choices move the story along at an enjoyably unfettered pace.

The intrigue I’ve previously mentioned is not hyperbolic. Once Brown begins to weave his tale starting with Paleolithic cave paintings he manages to quickly ramp up to a history of gaming, gambling, and video games. Eventually, he leads us to the doorstep of Alexey Pajitnov. This is where the tale of a video game created in a developer’s spare time spins into a story of a pop cultural zeitgeist that led to bidding wars, backroom deals, courtroom dramas, Cold War politics, Creator’s Rights issues, theft, miscommunication, benevolent benefactors, tragedy and redemption.

Tetris: The Games People Play

Reveals the dramatic origin story of the ubiquitous 1980s video game, describing how a USSR government computer scientist created the game for his fellow computer aficionados and how Tetris is connected to the software business, the nature of gaming, and the evolution of Nintendo.