Tetris can easily be classified as one of the most popular and timeless games of all time and now a new one Apple TV+ Moviestarring Taron Egerton, reveals the almost unbelievable story of how the game went from one man’s computer in the Soviet Union to devices around the world.
Before Henk Rogers and Alexey Pajitnov co-founded The Tetris Company, the game was just something computer engineer Pajitnov invented using just a set of square brackets on a computer. The movie Tetris begins by introducing us to Rogers, who first saw Tetris in 1988 at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas and was immediately enthralled by how simple yet addictive the game was. He then embarked on a journey to secure the rights to the game at all costs.
Rogers borrowed $2 million to produce the video game cartridge, putting up his father-in-law’s house as collateral. But while Rogers believed he had the Japanese console rights to the game, that was not the case in the eyes of the Soviet-owned company ELORG. Rogers then had to make his way to the Soviet Union, on a tourist visa, in a dangerous attempt to acquire rights to the game.
“It’s a completely new experience for me and a completely new set of emotions,” Pajitnov said Yahoo Canada. “This is really great and I’m very proud, not of myself but of my baby, of my game.”
“I never expected when I read the script that it would be as dramatic as a thriller on steroids,” added Rogers.
One thing that comes across so strongly in the film is Rogers’ determination to get what he wanted, despite the very real dangers.
“I’d say it’s about 20 percent naivety and 80 percent determination,” Rogers said. “It’s just the way I am, and naivety helps me end up in places I wouldn’t have if I knew what I was doing.”
For Pajitnov he emphasized that the meeting with Rogers was a very important moment both for him personally and for the game.
“Suddenly, I saw the first human face at that table, not the bureaucrat, not the crook [that] he tried to take something very quickly and ran away, but my real colleague,” said Pajitnov.
“The biggest challenge of my career to date”
For Tetris director Jon S. Baird, wanted the audience to feel exactly how he felt reading the script, having fun but also learning so much.
“I think I’m always drawn to things that are based in reality, real life, real people,” Baird said. “I had never heard of the story, so when I read the script the first thing I thought was, is this true?”
“I felt nostalgic for the 1980s, for the music scene and politics. I’m a politics major so I have a real interest in it. … It really ticked all the boxes for me.”
The director also called part of this project one of the biggest challenges of his career, and that was to balance the friendship between Rogers and Pajitnov (the role of Nikita Efremov). under strange circumstances, with the fascinating history of the Soviet Union’s operations at that time.
“That was the constant battle the whole time,” Byrd said. “When it comes down to what you’re trying to do as a director, you’re making sure all the departments and all your actors make … one movie.”
“That, in this case, was the biggest challenge of my career to date, because it could have gotten to a place where things didn’t quite fit together. It’s a really good analogy for Tetris blocks.”
While the madness of Tetris The story really pulls you in, the story can seem a bit convoluted at times, with so many twists and turns. But there’s absolutely no doubting Egerton’s infectious energy as Rogers, aided by a wonderfully nostalgic score and lovable 1980s video game animation.
“He’s an actor who had success at a young age and sometimes that can rub off on you, but it doesn’t,” Baird said of Egerton. “It’s coming out for all the right reasons.”
“Some of the funnest moments on set are when an actor asks you to justify why they have to do things a certain way. … I think it’s just his best performance, because he’s shown another range of his acting ability.”
What makes Tetris such a great game?
So what is it about Tetris that has allowed the game to really stand the test of time? For Rogers, it really comes down to its simplicity and the concept of “creating order out of chaos.”
“It’s very easy to understand what’s going on from the moment you touch the machine,” Rogers explained. “After your first game, you pretty much know how to play the game.”
“The second thing is that you create order out of chaos. So if you let it go, you’ll create a big mess, and your strength is in making the decisions that actually clear the falling blocks. … If you look at the universe, the universe is chaos, and life is order. … Tetris is kind of like that. We create life instead of chaos.”
“It’s something really magical, these very simple squares that appear and people immediately connect with it because it’s so familiar and so easy,” Pajitnov added. “It’s so addicting and engaging to make it work.”
“It always encourages you to improve yourself and that’s also an important feature of the game.”
For Rogers, he says he doesn’t find much time to play games anymore, but he does play Wordle with his friends and Scrabble. Pajitnov finds himself moving towards puzzle games, such as Bejeweled-style games.
Having created Tetris decades ago, the game has been revamped as technology has advanced beyond the 1980s, but Pajitnov still believes that Tetris is perfect as it is.
“I would kill someone who tried to touch it,” Pajitnov said. “It’s great the way it is.”
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