It’s hard to believe now, but Tetris had everything going against it when it was first created. Dreamed up in a country weighed down with bureaucracy and largely walled off from the outside world, Tetris shouldn’t have become the worldwide phenomenon it became. A new book goes into painstaking detail about how the classic game infected the world.


Written by CNET editor Dan Ackerman, The Tetris Effect: The Game That Hypnotized the World offers up an investigative history of the titular game. Ackerman—who I first met in tech/video game writing circles years ago and have been friends with for more than a decade—delves deep into the lives of the people who helped the rotating puzzle creation become one of the most popular video games of all time. Readers get a glimpse of Tetris creator Alexey Pajitnov in his early days as a quiet programmer in the Soviet Union who just wanted people to try out the clever code he’d made. They’ll also see how early PC enthusiast Henk Rogers, trapped in his Japanese in-laws’ family business, turned to video game publishing to help him chart his own path, eventually becoming a key figuring in helping Tetris escape the gravity of the USSR. The book also offers a miniature survey of how society has responded to the cognitive effects of video games, looking at the concerns raised by “Tetris addiction.”

The Tetris Effect and Tetris: The Games People Play make good companion pieces for each other. Box Brown’s graphic novel is a more philosophical consideration of Tetris and its place in a sociocultural history of how playing games is a greater good while Ackerman’s study breaks down the personalities and contemporary business and technological quirks of the video game business on a more granular level. Ackerman will be here to answer your questions about Tetris and his book from 1:00-2:00 p.m. ET.