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You don’t get to 999,999 lines without making a few Tetrises.
Legendary Russian game designer Alexey Pajitnov has had an interesting life, and now you may see his story on the silver screen. Hollywood director Brett Ratner and producer James Packer are developing a biopic based on the period where Pajitnov created the beloved falling-brick puzzle game Tetris, according to film website Tracking Board. If you’re wondering what in the hell a Tetris movie is going to look like, don’t think of the critically panned Pixels. Ratner and his collaborators are instead going for something more along the lines of The Social Network, which retold the creation of Mark Zuckerberg’s Facebook website.
Tetris is one of the most popular video games ever made. Its has surpassed 170 million copies sold for the old Game Boy handheld system, PCs, modern consoles, smartphones, and the dozens of other devices it is available for today. Everyone knows about the blocky puzzler, and you can make a joke about “waiting for a long piece” and many people — even ones who don’t play games often — will understand what you mean.
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But the history of Tetris isn’t just about a successful piece of software. Pajitnov originally built the game while working for the communist U.S.S.R. government on a research project. In 1984, along with hiss partners Dmitry Pavlovsky and Vadim Gerasimov, the developer built the first version of Tetris and started passing it off to other computer programmers in Moscow.
Tetris built up a cult following, and developers modified it numerous times to get it running on all kinds of computers. Meanwhile, Pajitnov was unsure how to publish the game for sale, and so he reluctantly agreed to give the rights to the Soviets for 10 years. A Russian organization known as Elorg eventually sold a portion of the rights to Nintendo in 1988 — this led to Tetris coming with ever new Game Boy handheld gaming system sold during this period.
That Game Boy version is what turned Tetris into one of the world’s most popular games. But despite that success and popularity, Pajitnov made no money from Tetris until 1996.
It’s an interesting story with a mistreated genius at its core, which should make for some interesting drama.
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