Time Magazine reports that thirty years ago, a little game about dropping geometrically strange thingamajigs originally clusters of punctuation marks into neat, lookalike rows kicked off on a wild journey that led it out of a metamorphosing Soviet Union to the United States. That game, dubbed Tetris after the Greek word for the number four, is today one of the most popular video games of all time going from "blockbuster" sales of 2 million already by 1988 to over 425 million paid mobile downloads today. "I never imagined Tetris was going to be this successful," says creator Alexey Pajitnov. "The simple, yet addicting nature of Tetris still has me playing it a few times every week. I meet fans from around the world who are also as passionate about Tetris as me, and there is no doubt in my mind Tetris will continue to expand and bring its classic appeal to new players in new ways and on new devices, whatever they may be."
Peter Hartlaub says that the problem with writing a tribute to "Tetris" is that there are no great moments associated with it which is pretty much the point of the game. It's about taking the player out of the moment, and into a sort of high-functioning intellectual limbo. "Tetris isn't about letting your mind wander to a different world: It's about shutting it down altogether," says Hartlaub. "It creates almost a meditative state. The DNA of Tetris, still popular in its own right, is evident in some of the most popular games in 2014, including the equally escapist "Bejeweled" and "Candy Crush Saga." Tetris perfected downtime, and this was no small thing. In defending my role as pop culture critic, I often try to explain that there's honor in making someone's BART commute seem to go by more quickly. Some of us create fine art, others craft a way to pass the time."