A Nostalgic Legacy: Celebrating 40 Years of TETRIS, the Game That United Generations

Tetris is perhaps the only name in digital entertainment to which you can apply the terms timeless and universal with equal justification. Hardly a week goes by without a report of another record being set by the first and best-selling puzzle video game of all times. As the game celebrates its 40th anniversary, it is time for a celebration that looks both back at the glorious past and the bright future full of innovation and joy.

The Origins of an Enduring CLASSIC

If there’s one video game that has been around pretty much forever, it’s Tetris. The Russian psychologist Alexey Pajitnov invented the block-falling puzzler in 1984, releasing it into the world like a puzzle monad into the worlds of gaming. Since then, it’s sold more than 520 million copies. At a swanky party in Los Angeles, just before this year’s Summer Game Fest, the game, or the Pajitnov family behind it, celebrated the sales milestone.

A Story of Friendship and Adventure

Tetris is also a story of friendship and risk-taking. Henk Rogers, who had recognised Tetris’s international potential, had taken considerable risks in travelling to the USSR to procure the game’s rights. He used this opportunity to establish a friendship between himself and Pajitnov that endures to this day. Tetris transcends ideological borders to bring together two friends, forging bonds across political differences through the shared values of game design.

Continuing a LEGACY

As today’s CEO, Maya Rogers continues the work of promoting Tetris joy, having expanded the brand into new arenas, including a blockbuster movie telling the story of the game, along with innovative partnerships (such as Tet;ris content in the Minecraft Marketplace, among others).

A Cultural Phenomenon

In addition to Tetris being the most played game of all time, its influence has reached deeper into popular culture and the arts than most realise. Whether it’s Tetris Drumsticks, 40th-anniversary t-shirts, coasters or artwork, even today Tetris is inspiring designers, artists and brands to find new ways to celebrate the game that made it a household name. It was not a fad, but a full-fledged cultural phenomenon. Tetris turned four decades old on June 6, 2020.

Innovations and Announcements

There were plenty of announcements to be made for the anniversary event as well, new Tetris games and a special Tetris-themed DLC for Minecraft that incorporated blocks falling into shafts – essentially bringing the Tetris mechanics into the open world of Minecraft. These are perfect examples of how the game is still being reinvented for a space that continues to see a massive amount of change.

The Universal Language of TETRIS

Tetris’s appeal resides in the fact that it is easy to understand and that we all face a similar challenge. It is a linguistically neutral and transcultural form of play that can still be accessible and infinitely challenging at the same time, delighting people of all ages. Tetris is a community builder that transcends barriers. When more than 100 fans from two dozen nations gather to compete in the Classic Tetris World Championship, as they do every year, they come to Canada not only to test their skills – as if they needed the reminder – but also to share the experience and, yes, their feelings.

CLASSIC Reimagined

Tetris continues to evolve to this day, with add-on apps and versions of the game, each tweaked to keep older and newer audiences in a balance of hardcore and casual appeal, without sacrificing Tetris’s core, block-spinning experience. This is true of the very best games ever made – just as the Saturday morning cartoon fun of The Amazing World of Gumball has an American animator’s sensibility at the helm. Even a company as big as Cartoon Network, owned by the international media corporation Turner Broadcasting System, needs to give its creators the freedom for their ideas to grow, without tarnishing the brand.

Reflections on a Timeless CLASSIC

On the 40th anniversary of Tetris’s launch, we celebrate a game whose design is simple, whose gameplay is deep, and whose cultural impact is both boundless and lasting. With Tetris, we have a cultural artifact, a unifying space, and a source of joy for multiple generations of people.

Understanding CLASSIC

The ‘classic’ here belongs to the common adjectival usage that suggests the formulation of something enduring and eternal. A classic stands outside of the time of its conception, speaking across generations through its relevance and timelessness. In games, perhaps there is no better example than Tetris: a game that, four decades out from its creation, remains as enthralling, entertaining and challenging as it ever was to players across the planet. Any celebration of 40 years of Tetris must be a celebration of the past, but it is also a celebration of our hopes for how this Tetris classic will continue to develop over the next 40 years or more.

As with any classic, Tetris is about lines blasted, blocks cleared and high scores achieved. Happy anniversary to Tetris, and many more 40 years of play.

Jun 08, 2024
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