Tetris is one of the most popular games of all time. It involves arranging four-celled blocks called “tetrominoes” following specific patterns. As a player rises through the levels, so does the speed of the descending blocks. Despite the development of other video games, Tetris has withstood the test of time, and there are still active competitors today. Here are some amazing Tetris facts you probably didn’t know.
1. The World’s Smallest Game of Tetris Was Played under a Microscope
In 2002, students at the Department of Physics of Complex Systems in Virje made and played the smallest game of Tetris. Measuring 0.001 millimeters, the researchers played the game with a microscope, setting the record for the smallest tetrominoes (each measured one micrometer).
2. There Is a Phenomenon Called “The Tetris Effect”
The Tetris effect refers to a phenomenon where an individual does something for so long that its patterns form in their mental images, thoughts, and even dreams. The phenomenon’s name comes from the video game Tetris. It was discovered that people who played the game for prolonged periods found themselves thinking about how various pieces and shapes could fit together.
3. Tetris Was The First Video Game to Be Played in Space
Following his trip to the MIR Space Station in 1993, Russian cosmonaut Aleksandr A. Serebov became the first to play a video game in space. He did so on his Nintendo, and the game was Tetris – he packed a personal copy before leaving Earth.
4. Apple Co-Founder Submitted Too Many Tetris High Scores, So He Was Banned
In the 1990s, Tetris players could submit high scores, so Nintendo would print them. Apple’s co-founder, Steve Wozniak, presented so many of them that he was barred from doing so. He then changed his name by spelling it backward as “Evets Kainzow” and submitted more. Interestingly, at one point, he forgot what he did and got upset that someone else was beating his records.
5. Tetris Was Created By a Russian-American Software Engineer in 1985
In 1985, Alexey Pajitnov, a Russian-American software engineer, created the original version of Tetris while working at the Dorodnitsyn Computing Center. While there have been numerous Tetris sequels, the game almost always has the same play dynamics as Pajitnov designed.
6. A 13-Year-Old Gamer “Conquered” Tetris
A 13-year-old gamer known as Willis Gibson alias Blue Scuti (YouTube username) recently “conquered” Tetris by becoming the first person to reach level 157. After 38 minutes of playing, Tetris experienced strange errors – new blocks stopped descending, and the screen froze. The moment captured on camera left many in the gaming world in awe as it is almost impossible to reach the “kill screen.”
7. The Game Was Spread Largely Through Piracy
When Pajitnov developed Tetris, he didn’t know how to patent or distribute it; he had little business acumen. Even so, the Soviet government controlled most of the inventions at the time; Pajitnov feared being punished.
However, a copy of the game was smuggled to Hungary, and various versions emerged. Had it not been for the piracy, we probably could have never known of Tetris. On the downside, the game’s developer didn’t earn much from its initial sales.
8. A “Tetris Challenge” Trended Worldwide in 2019
In 2019, members of the Zurich police department lay on the ground with their equipment and service vehicles arranged next to them in the shape of a Tetris filling grid. They took a birds-eye-view photograph that went viral. Healthcare practitioners, firefighters, some military units, and police officers worldwide took up the challenge – it was known as the #TetrisChallenge.
9. The Name “Tetris” Is a Combination of Two Other Words
According to Alex Pajitnov (the game’s creator), Tetris is a combination of two words: the Greek prefix tetra (which means four) and tennis (his favorite sport).
10. The Game Boy Tetris Version Is Among the Best-Selling Games of All Times
As simple as Tetris’ concept may be, the game is among the greatest video games ever made. More than 202 million copies, including about 70 million physical copies, have been sold since the game was first created. It has been played across every device that supports gaming, making it one of the most diverse video games available on over 65 platforms. Of all these, the Game Boy Tetris version sold the most, with over 35 million copies.
11. It Holds A Guinness World Record for the Most Ported Video Game
At the time of writing, Tetris is the most-ported videogame, a record recognized by the Guinness World Records. Since the first version was developed, over 200 official game variants have been designed for at least 70 platforms. This includes every commercial videogame console, home computers, some television sets, and mobile gaming platforms.
12. Tetris Was Once Played On the Sides of a Skyscraper
The record for the largest architectural videogame display belongs to Frank Lee, a professor in charge of Drexel University’s gaming department. In 2014, Lee developed a Tetris version big enough to be played on the North and South sides of Philadelphia’s 29-story Cira Center.
13. Nintendo Almost Passed up on the Opportunity to Include Tetris in Their Game Boy Console
Apparently, Nintendo didn’t think Tetris was a good fit for their Game Boy Console and nearly passed up the opportunity. However, Henk Rodgers, who represented Bullet Proof Software, managed to change the minds of Nintendo’s representatives. Rodgers told them that Super Mario only appealed to little boys, while Tetris appealed to everyone who played video games. Tetris ended up selling more than 35 million copies for Nintendo.
14. Tetris Level 29 Was Initially Thought To Be The Hardest to Pass
The Tetris game is built so that it gets faster as a gamer clears a block and advances to the next level. For the longest time, it was thought that level 29 was the hardest/fastest. However, in 2011, Thor Aackerlund, a Tetris specialist, showed the world that advancing to level 30 and beyond was possible. Through his “hypertapping” technique, more players pushed the limits at least to level 38 before another was discovered.
15. Some Levels Of The Game Have Glitched Colors
Since Tetris was coded in the 1980s, the color of the game’s blocks glitch at level 138. They become dark and almost impossible to see. At the time, nobody imagined reaching those levels possible, and the game was built to be memory efficient.