The Relation between Tetris and Russia That Will Surprise You

It is as if under the spell that most people always get addicted to Tetris game upon the first contact. The game design is perfect and clearly utilizes the technology of its time perfectly. So simple is the gameplay that it seems as if the player could visualize it well in a physical prototype. However, it is actually much more difficult with a little trial.

Without any context, Tetris game still makes sense although the pieces and lines may not represent giant robots doing combat, wizards casting spells or dragons hoarding princesses like other games nowadays.

Tetris simply is what it is. Inconsequential knowledge of the game is totally unnecessary. It is a magic to Tetris’s superb design that it stands solely upon its design. It is safe to say that no one is playing Tetris for the story or the graphics, and instead, for the sake of the game.

In short, the Tetris game is tremendously intuitive and simple. And design that simple really speaks directly to the player’s spatial reasoning and connects them to the gameplay instinctively.

In this article, we will discuss the relation between Tetris and Russia that will surprise you. Yes, both subjects are closely linked to each other. If you are curious, then keep scrolling this page.

From Russia with Fun

There are a lot of people who are quite familiar with Tetris. There is hardly a screen that is not capable of playing it; from cell phones to arcades, it has been a constant presence in the gaming industry for about 32 years. But do they know that Tetris is actually Russian’s? Yes, Tetris was considered a Russian game because a Russian made it.

Originally, it was programmed and designed by Alexey Pajitnov and was released on June 6, 1984. Long story short, Nintendo heard about it and one of their representatives went to Moscow to negotiate about its rights. In the end, they all agreed to sell the rights to Nintendo so the game went international afterward.

Tetris is fascinating not just for its enduring appeal which you can play endlessly and requires no instruction but because of the twisty and dramatic path that brought it to the world.

The History of Tetris

The gameplay may be not complicated enough. However, the history of how it came to be popular in the gaming industry and enchant millions of people all over the world is quite the opposite.

The history is full of game industry rivalries, handshake deals, and tense negotiations between Soviet officials and Western executives during the last decade of the Cold War when the relation between countries in the West and USSR (Union of Soviet Socialist Republics) was anything but civil.

It all started off with a puzzle-loving software developer named Alexey Pajitnov who built Tetris back in 1984 while working for the Dorodnitsyn Computing Centre of the Soviet Academy of Sciences, a research and development center owned by the government.


Initially, Pajitnov did not wish to make money from Tetris. He designed it solely for entertainment purpose. Pajitnov visualized the wooden shapes falling from above into a glass container with players guiding them into place and controlling the shapes. Pajitnov made the shapes to four squares each and called it Tetris. The name was derived from the Latin word “tetra” which means the numerical prefix four and “tennis” which was Pajitnov’s favorite game.

When Pajitnov shared the game with his colleagues, they started playing it and got addicted to it. These players copied and transferred the game on floppy disks and spread it across Moscow. When Pajitnov sent a copy of the game to a colleague in Hungary, it made to the display in a software exhibit at the Hungarian Institute of Technology and became even more popular. Tetris was the first software made in the Soviet Union to be sold in America.

An owner of some software company was amazed by the game. So, he tracked down Pajitnov back in Moscow. Eventually, the game’s fate lay in the hands of a new Soviet agency known as Elektronorgtechnica (Elorg).

Puzzle Loving Man

It was on a cold February in the 1970s. Alexey Pajitnov was only fifteen when he leaped over a pile of snow in Moscow. As he fell, his leg hit the pavement with a loud crack. Soviet doctors came in rescue and put him in a full leg cast. The accident cost him two to three months of in-home recuperation. In order to help him survive the boredom, his friend gifted him books of math puzzles.


From that day, Pajitnov became addicted to the puzzle games and ultimately sought out other brain teaser games. He grew up feeling fond of pentomino puzzle game which is a geometric jigsaw challenge that requires the player to arrange the pieces made up of five squares into a particular area.

The interesting history of Tetris is interlaced with the exploration of gaming such as why people do it, how it changes them in person, and how it brings people together. Pajitnov started off the journey with Tetris simply because he loved puzzle games and wanted to share them with other people that in the end, Tetris took on a life of its own.

It is the universal thing that almost always happens with all art and artists. They create something for other people and it becomes famous. Once it is out into the world, it can be modified by other people and as a result, become something else entirely. It is what happened to Tetris. In an extreme way, it is like a lens to view such a theme in all commerce and art.

So, that is the relation between Tetris and Russia that will surprise you. Pick up your old game boy and have some nostalgic with Tetris to inspect more of the brilliance of it.

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