×

Uh-oh, it looks like your Internet Explorer is out of date.

For a better shopping experience, please upgrade now.

The Tetris Effect: The Game that Hypnotized the World
     

The Tetris Effect: The Game that Hypnotized the World

by Dan Ackerman
 

See All Formats & Editions


Tetris is perhaps the most instantly recognizable, popular video game ever made. 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

Overview


Tetris is perhaps the most instantly recognizable, popular video game ever made. 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.

All 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 Despite the archaic machines (outdated even for their era) that Pajitnov worked with and the fact that he had to develop the game after-hours on his own time, Tetris worked its way first through his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.

Editorial Reviews

Library Journal
07/01/2016
With this impressive first effort, journalist Ackerman (CNET) explains the complicated and fraught history of a ubiquitous video game classic. Tracing the history of Tetris from its inception behind the Iron Curtain of the Soviet Union as the Cold War waned through the drawn out comedy of miscommunications surrounding its licensing, the author strikes a balance between fleshing out the characters involved in the game's epic rise and untangling the web of misunderstandings that accompanied it into the world. He covers this background nicely and without judgment, not just evoking feelings for figures such as Alexey Pajitnov, the game's creator; and Henk Rogers, the man responsible for bringing Tetris to the video game device Game Boy but also creating a desire to understand how, under a government that did not acknowledge individuals' rights to license their own creations, the final agreements were finally struck. Despite the implications of the title, Ackerman focuses considerably less on the body of scientific research involving Tetris—there are three "bonus level" chapters devoted to the topic, each one a treat—but that is probably a subject for another book. VERDICT A must-read for Tetris fans.—Paul Stenis, Pepperdine Univ. Lib., Malibu, CA
Kirkus Reviews
2016-06-30
How a simple computer game of cascading geometric shapes became a worldwide phenomenon.In 1984, Alexey Pajitnov, a “lone computer scientist at the Russian Academy of Sciences,” invented “Tetris,” the massively popular computer game that combines hand-eye coordination and geometry. Impressively, he created it during his off hours using what today would be considered primitive software and antiquated computers. When the game was reprogrammed to work on Nintendo’s Game Boy, making it accessible to almost everyone with a handheld console, it took off. As CNET section editor Ackerman notes, “it’s estimated that the dozens of official versions of Tetris have generated more than $1 billion in lifetime sales, and the game’s legacy has directly influenced time-sucking moneymakers from Bejeweled to Candy Crush Saga.” The author provides a meticulous accounting of the rise of “Tetris” from its earliest inception to its release from behind Russia’s walls and into the rest of the computer world. He details the background of Pajitnov and Henk Rogers, a Dutch-born computer programmer who had worked in his family’s gem business for years before following his passion with computers and eventually inventing the role-playing game “The Black Onyx.” Ackerman also includes side notes on how the playing of “Tetris” alters the brain—not necessarily in a good way—and how addictive the game can be. For those fascinated with the way video games are created and intrigued by the history of early computers, the book will provide great entertainment, just like the game. However, most ordinary players of “Tetris” will get bogged down in the nitty-gritty details that Ackerman includes in his exhaustive reporting of a game that “is everything from a cultural shorthand for crowded elevators, closets, and parking lots to the first game many people download on their new tablets and smartphones.” An all-inclusive history behind one of the most popular video games ever.
From the Publisher
"The definitive telling of one of the most fascinating stories in videogame history."—WIRED

"Ackerman's account of the rise of Tetris is as captivating as watching the game's multi-colored, four-squared objects (known as "tetrominoes") vanish before your eyes with the right move."—Fortune Online

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9781610396110
Publisher:
PublicAffairs
Publication date:
09/06/2016
Pages:
272
Sales rank:
243,800
Product dimensions:
6.20(w) x 9.30(h) x 1.00(d)

Meet the Author


New York native Dan Ackerman is currently a section editor at the leading technology news site CNET, where he oversees a team running CNET's New York gadget testing lab, reviews laptops and tablets, hosts videos, and writes about hot-button consumer technology topics.

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. As a writer and columnist, Ackerman has contributed regularly to magazines, including Men's Journal, Maxim, Blender, and Sync, and he's previously served as a monthly technology columnist for both SPIN and WWE Magazine. As an industry expert, he's been interviewed by or quoted in the New York Times, USA Today, The Atlantic, Mother Jones, Fast Company, and many other publications.

Customer Reviews

Average Review:

Post to your social network

     

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

See all customer reviews