Vendor
Foundry
Published by
Public Affairs (2016-09-06)
Current material
Final Pages
Original language
English
Themas
Political economy
BACK

THE TETRIS EFFECT

The Game that Hypnotized the World

by Ackerman, Dan

Tetris is perhaps the most instantly recognizable, popular video game ever made. Yet its origin story is so improbable that it's amazing that any of us ever played the game. In this surprising and entertaining book, tech reporter Dan Ackerman explains how a Soviet programmer named Alexey Pajitnov was struck with inspiration as a teenager, then meticulously worked for years to bring the game he had envisioned to life. British, American, and Japanese moguls saw the game's potential and worked, often unscrupulously, to beat each other in the race to sell the game.

Sales of authorized copies total near $1 billion to date, and that is just a fraction of the money made from knockoffs and pirated versions. Based on an obscure board game, it was designed for early computers, became a hit on TV consoles, and soared in popularity with handheld devices like the Game Boy. Today it lives on in smartphones, tablets, and laptops. This despite the fact--or perhaps because of it--that it has no superhero to merchandise and no story to dramatize. Tetris is abstraction translated to bytes, a puzzle game in its purest form.

Yet its origin story is so improbable that it's amazing that any of us ever played the game. In this surprising and entertaining book, tech reporter Dan Ackerman explains how a Soviet programmer named Alexey Pajitnov was struck with inspiration as a teenager, then meticulously worked for years to bring the game he had envisioned to life. Despite the archaic machines (outdated even for their era) that Pajitnov worked with and the fact that he had to develop the game after-hours on his own time, Tetris worked its way first through his office, and then out of it, entrancing player after player with its hypnotic shapes. It became almost a metaphor for the late Soviet era, with the kinetic energy of commerce pushing ever harder against the walls put up by the government.

British, American, and Japanese moguls saw the game's potential and worked, often unscrupulously, to beat each other in the race to sell the game. Ackerman tells the story of these men and their maneuvers, and how the game made it to consumers’ hands in the United States on a Game Boy screen in 1989.

Full of plot twists and fascinating trivia, The Tetris Effect reveals the story of one of the greatest games ever created. It is an homage to both creator and creation, and a perfect gift for anyone who's ever played the game--which is to say anyone at all.

Dan Ackerman is currently a Section Editor at leading technology news site CNET, and one of the most-recognized names and faces in technology journalism. He's a well-known TV talking head, seen on CNN, CNBC, MSNBC, Fox News, BBC News, ABC, CBS, and NBC News, and other outlets, and he regularly appears as an in-house technology expert on CBS This Morning, talking about everything from self-driving cars to smartphones with anchors Charlie Rose and Gayle King. A former radio broadcaster and member of Mensa, Dan was previously a Senior Editor at the gaming and pop culture website UGO.com, as well as a cast member on the cult favorite video game history web series "Play Value."

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Comments

"Ackerman doles out intrigue worthy of Robert Ludlum or Tom Clancy. It’s a behind-the-Iron Curtain nail-biter. The bumbling ELORG, the simple Soviet programmer, the haphazard Dutch-American-Japanese businessman — the whole of it feels like a delightful milkshake of Jason Bourne and Mr. Bean."

Review: Los Angeles Review of Books

UK: OneWorld

Quote: Foundry

Tetris on the Gameboy has been the major hand-held game of my life, and it’s still a daily addiction for me. I take maybe 200 flights a year to random places, long and short, and Gameboy Tetris is an excellent way to spend some of the time. This morning I awoke tired so I played a couple of games of Tetris to get my neurons going and I was then wide awake; I do this frequently. The Tetris Effect is a great read on a game that has hypnotized my brain and probably yours too.

Quote: Steve Wozniak

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