This abstract puzzle, created in 1985 by Pajitonov, a Russian computer programmer employed by the Soviet Academy of Sciences, is highly addictive and becomes, when played for extended periods of time, an almost meditative practice. Tetris has become one of the most universal of all video games, appealing to players across lines of age, gender, and geography and adapted for nearly every gaming and computer system. Many people bought Nintendo's Game Boy specifically to play Tetris, which was included with purchase of the device when it was released in 1989.
Gallery label from Century of the Child: Growing by Design, 1900–2000, July 29–November 5, 2012.
Pajitnov created TETRIS in 1984, while employed by the Computing Center, part of the Academy of Sciences of the USSR, a government research and development agency. The game on display here is a simulation of his original program—a two-dimensional geometric spatial puzzle. Various four-part shapes, called Tetriminos, fall in random order down the vertical playing field, known as the Matrix. The player must move and rotate each Tetrimino as it falls in order to complete a horizontal line of ten blocks across the bottom of the screen. When this is accomplished, the line vanishes. Once several lines are deleted, the player moves up a level; as the player succeeds, the Tetriminos fall faster and faster. The game is over when the stack reaches the top of the Matrix. In the mid-1980s, TETRIS was licensed for a range of home computer systems, in addition to arcade cabinets; Nintendo included it in 1989 on the handheld portable Game Boy player, rocketing the game—and the device—to fame. With its universal appeal, TETRIS has been adapted to nearly every video game or computer system and to devices including consoles, mobile phones, personal computers, and tabletop games.
Gallery label from Applied Design, March 2, 2013–January 20, 2014.