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How Tetris made the gamer I am today

This post has been edited by the GamesBeat staff. Opinions by GamesBeat community writers do not necessarily reflect those of the staff.

NOTE: For the Secret Santa Bitmob Writing Challenge, I received the topic: "The one holiday game you have received that really means something to you."

The holiday season has always been the best time to be a gamer. It’s not hard to see why. With hyped titles hitting our shelves and Steam sales hitting our wallets, there’s never been a shortage of things to play.

But long before these days were commonplace, before DLC, E3, or even Windows 95, I spent one Christmas with the greatest game I have ever played, a game that trumps every other title to this very day: Tetris.

 

It’s silly when you think about it. How can you become addicted to a bunch of falling blocks in a game without an end? Maybe part of the dedication came from the novelty of it all. All my five-year-old brain knew was that video games were what the cool kids had. It didn’t matter what genre, platform, or company made them; they were new, they were different, and they had to be mine.

Of course, my parents were happy to oblige. Come Christmas, I got a toaster-sized Game Boy, 4 AA batteries, and a copy of Tetris. My reaction was almost exactly like that of the Nintendo 64 kid. Not only did I play through that game the entire day, I did so while completely ignoring my other presents. After all, what good are socks and underwear when you have your very own console?

You might think having just one game to play would be a problem, especially if you look at the massive backlog I have built up over the years. But Tetris had a strange power over my mind. It wasn’t about getting to the end (even though the game did have one); it was all about seeing how long I could keep it going.

Pair that with my friends playing the title at the same time, and I had myself a community that embodies the spirit of the greatest online clans of today.

Yes, Tetris has an ending

The months following found me taking my new setup everywhere. I would show off my Game Boy while at the dentist, the supermarket, church, and anywhere else my parents would let me get away with it. I was part of a special group — I could say for the first time in my life that I was a gamer!

20 years later, dozens of consoles and portables have come and gone from my collection. But my pea-soup Game Boy and Tetris have still managed to find a spot near my HDTV and library of games. I may have about a dozen variations of the same title on everything from my smartphone to my microwave, but I still seem to go back to the original that started it all.

After all, you have to remember your roots.


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