A 13-year-old from Oklahoma appears to have finally done the nearly impossible: He beat Tetris.
Willis Gibson is believed to be the first human gamer to reach level 157 of the classic video game nearly 40 years after its release.
“I’m going to pass out, I can’t feel my fingers,” Gibson said after his feat caused the game to crash in a video posted to YouTube Tuesday.
“When I started playing this game I never expected to ever crash the game, or beat it,” Gibson wrote in the video’s description.
The viral video of Gibson’s 38-minute game, posted under his “Blue Scuti” screen name, is the latest spike in nostalgia for the addictive and enduring game created by a Soviet engineer in 1984 and popularized on the Nintendo Entertainment System.
To date, over 200 official variants of Tetris has been released on at least 70 systems, a world record according to Guinness World Records. The Electronic Arts developed mobile version released in 2006 has been sold 100 million times, making it the third best-selling video game of all time, according to a Hewlett Packard report last year.
A screenshot of Willis Gibson’s record-breaking Tetris game livestream
The creator himself has said he was instantly hooked after creating the game.
“I couldn’t stop myself from playing this prototype version, because it was very addictive to put the shapes together,” Alexey Pajitnov told CNN in 2019.
After its creation, Tetris quickly spread and has staying power, so enduring that the story of the its Cold War-era inception was turned into a movie for Apple TV+ in March.
“It hooked with us in almost like a primitive state,” said Victor Lucas, a gaming expert behind television series Electric Playground. “It transcends video games, quite frankly, like checkers or chess. It’s just one of these Juggernaut play experiences that any human being can understand immediately and be consumed by eternally.”
01:23 – Source: CNN
‘Tetris’ goes from game to movie
The game is simple: Manipulate and fit together falling blocks of varying shapes to create solid rows. As the level goes up, the blocks fall faster.
While other video games today offer plot lines, hundreds of characters, cinematic-like visuals and even live Travis Scott concerts, some experts say the simplicity of Tetris is what has kept it popular for decades.
Although Tetris has remained the same throughout the decades, the way it is played has evolved. Until 2011, players believed level 29 was the highest possible because that level featured the fastest speed for the game.
“It’s so well designed and so captivating for so many generations of gamers that people are literally discovering new feats to accomplish and scores to beat and challenges to overcome,” video game expert and consultant Scott Steinberg told CNN. “It constantly presents a host of new challenges that even masters find difficult to tackle.”
Tetris’s staying power derives from the game’s simplicity as well as it’s difficulty.
Once that level 29 barrier was broken, players started reaching higher and higher levels in tournaments like the Classic Tetris World Championship with techniques including “hypertapping” and “rolling.”
Gibson finished third in the 2023 world championships. And while Gibson is a record-breaking human gamer, a Tetris playing-AI got to level 236 in 2021 by manipulating the game parameters.
Even during a time when some video games “cost as much to make and look as good as many movies coming out of Hollywood, there’s still something to be said for a game that’s simple, elegant, incredibly approachable and enjoyable by players of any age or background,” Scott Steinberg told CNN. “Sometimes simpler is better, and the greatest games really do stand the test of time.”