“The games people play”
Genre: Graphic Novel
Similar to: Persepolis? I don’t read that many graphic novels.
Could be enjoyed by: Nerds 😜
Publication date: 7th November 2016
Now, if I were more artistically gifted and technologically adept I would draw you a little cartoon of how much I loved this graphic novel. Sadly I have neither skill so you’ll just have to put up with text 😜.
Tetris is the story of, well…Tetris. You may (like me) have fond memories of trying to get the oddly shaped puzzle pieces to tesselate on your Nintendo Game Boy, Game Girl, Game Boy Colour or knock off “Bricks!” walkman with LCD front display that your Mum bought you off the market (that one’s probably just me). However, you might not be aware that the creation and marketing of Tetris is an incredible story of politics, collusion, deceipt, theft, murder and bizarrely – Robert Maxwell.
Tetris the book explains the complicated story with gorgeously simple illustrations (not easy to depict considering many of the issues had to do with dodgy licensing rights). It goes right the way back to when Alexey Pajitnov, a Russian engineer, invented the game in his spare time using the primitive computer technology in his workplace. It goes on to explain how the game escaped from behind the Iron Curtain to take over the world despite illegal business deals, communist state ownership and international scandals. Honestly, I couldn’t believe how much shit had gone down.
I loved the way that such a complicated story was told in such an unfussy, easy to understand manner. I loved the two tone simplistic line drawings and the easy to follow dialogue. I thought that the way that the novel was written belied the complicated nature of the story, mirroring Tetris itself as it’s deceptively simple style can require huge amounts of skill and concentration.
I found the world that Tetris was created in utterly fascinating. I don’t know a huge amount about communist Russia in the 1970’s and 80’s so I was surprised to learn that the Soviets had absolutely no idea of how popular Tetris had become or how it was being marketed and sold without their permission. Ironically, if Russia hasn’t been so cut off the game would probably have been worthless as it was freely copied and shared throughout the country without license (I guess like the equivalent of a free download).
It saddened me to learn that even though he was the creator, Alexey Pajitnov was cut out of business negotiations pretty quickly and didn’t initially receive any money from the games worldwide success – it all went to the state (obviously, that’s how communism works Lucinda) – although I was pleased to learn that he eventually worked out a way to get some recompense. I loved how laid back Pajitnov was about the whole debacle and how he went back to his ordinary job even after the game had gone global. It did make me wonder how aware he was of the success of his product, although his primary aim did seem to be making people happy.
I was amazed that such a simplistic game could cause so many problems and have such a bizzare story. I found it incredible that it came into being at all considering the technology it was created on and the fact that Tetris made any money at all when the creator himself gave away free copies that were easy to save and pass on is astounding. I really enjoyed learning about the complicated history of the game and I loved the way in which the story was told.
“Dum dum dumdum DUMDUMDUM dum dumdum DUMDUMDUM dum dumdum dum dum DUUUUUM DUUUUUM”
(That was the themetune, in case you hadn’t guessed)
Rating: Four and a half helpful cries of “put the line ones to the edges!” out of five.
Please note that I read this novel as part of the Book Riot Read Harder Challenge 2018 #4 Read a comic written and illustrated by the same person.