Tetris: From Russia with Love

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This is the story behind the fiendishly addictive game, a tale of high stakes, intimidation and legal feuds set against the backdrop of Cold War tensions between East and West.

Blocks of different sizes fall from the top of the screen. At the bottom of the screen they settle and, if you can make a whole line then they vanish – of course if you don’t then they keep building up until you run out of room and the game ends. It is incredibly simple but fiendishly addictive and once you played it, you were pretty much owned by Tetris.

This documentary takes us back to the origins of the game in Russia as systems at the Moscow Computing School were being developed and pushed as to what they could do and one programme starts experimenting with falling shapes based on a famous jigsaw puzzle.

Computer games are made every week in the world and although Tetris was a phenomenon, a documentary that looks at the business dealings and negotiations that took it from a Moscow computer into homes and hands around the world.

However the story behind the business moves, political complications and such is a fascinating one that is delivered in an accessible and succinct manner in this documentary. The talking heads approach works really well because the contributions are focused and interesting – presenting the history while also managing to bring their characters out well.

The presentation is professional and respectful while the whole thing is very easy to follow and understand. Overall an enjoyable and interesting documentary that despite sounding a bit dull and corporate, will easily engage those who are familiar with the game.

Tetris is probably one of the most famous computer-games that have ever been developed. Alexei Pajitnov createt this simple, yet addictive game in 1984 as a student at the famous Soviet Union’s Academy of Science. It initially worked only on the Soviet Elektronika 60 Computer and got very popular among staff members and students at the Academy of Science in Moscow. It’s worldwide popularity became Tetris, after Nintendo published it on their video-game console and the gameboy. This resulted in millions of dollars of royalties – but not for the developer himself, but the Russian government.

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