Tetris is 30 years old today. Here are ten things you might not know about the game:
- The game was completed on June 6th 1984 by Alexander Pajitnov, a programmer at the Moscow Academy of Sciences who worked on the game in his spare time.
- Pajitnov created the game on an Elektronika computer. The brand usually involved Russian technicians trying to create clones of foreign products not available in the USSR, most notably knock-offs of the Nintendo Game & Watch.
- The name comes from a combination of tetromino (any shape consisting of four squares joined together by their edges) and tennis. Tetromino itself comes from the Greek word tetra (meaning four) and domino.
- As well as being the game’s name, Tetris is a verb meaning the action of clearing four lines from the screen at once (which, in the standard edition of the game, is only possible with the straight line shape)
- Though originally released on the PC, Tetris earned its biggest popularity on the Nintendo Game Boy on which it sold around 35 million copies, roughly half its overall total.
- In a 2007 list, games site IGN called it the second best game of all time, beaten only by Super Mario Brothers.
- Despite Nintendo acquiring the exclusive console rights to the game, Sega briefly released a version on the Mega Drive. It was quickly withdrawn after legal pressures and the few copies in existence are now valued in the thousands of dollars.
- Unlike most games, there’s no ultimate ‘win’ or ‘completion’ in Tetris. In 1988, a science masters student wrote a thesis concluding that the random nature of the shapes which appears mean it is impossible to develop an infinite winning strategy and that it is inevitable that players will lose eventually.
- Despite famously making little if any money from the game, Pajitnov once said (translated) “Let me tell you my opinion on free software: it should never have existed [and] today should not exist.”
- Brain scans of Tetris players show the game trains people to use their brains more efficiently, in some cases increasing performance seven-fold from the same level of energy.