30th July, 2012
The number of active Internet users who have never played online Tetris must be small to zero, since the Soviet game is now the most popular game in the world. Just in case you haven’t tried it out yet, head on down to www.tetrisk.com/and get a feel for the game. Then come back, to read a leser-known story of the game’s creators and history. The world’s most popular game is far more controversial than you’d think.
Perhaps the most interesting figure behind the Tetris series of games is that of their creator himself. Alexei Pajitnov, now aged 56, lives and works in the United States, where he is an employee of mega software corporation Microsoft. Although he’s been with the company since October, 1996, Pajitnov has also collaborated with other companies, such as WildSnake Software, who commissioned the Russian computer engineer to create a brand new line of puzzles for them.
What not many people know is that, for a long time, Pajitnov did not receive any money for creating what is perhaps the best known computer game of all time. Why? Simply because, at the time of its release (1985), he worked for the Government of the USSR. According to Communist bylaws, all creations of the State’s employees rightfully belonged to the State. In other words, Mother Russia simply took it upon itself to distribute Pajitnov’s work all over the country and throughout Eastern Europe, while the game’s creator was only paid eleven years later.
Finally, in 1996, Pajitnov and Dutch video game designer-cum-entrepreneur Henk Rogers, founded The Tetris Company. Nowadays, all rights over the Tetris trademark belong to The Tetris Company, which distributes it the world over. Rogers founded the company after moving from The Netherlands to Hawaii. The company is Hawaii-based and has no other object of activity than handling the Tetris trademark. You might think that’s a small feat, but—think about it. The mobile version of the game is by far the best selling title in the industry. What is more, The Tetris Company also issues a list of rules and guidelines that all Tetris games must observe.
The company was formed when Rogers and Pajitnov finaly bought out ELORG (which stands for Elektronorgtechnica), the former Soviet agency for software and hardware. After the fall of the Communist regime, ELORG, too, became a private company and, in the mid-90s, the two founders of The Tetris Company purchased all remaining rights over the commercial Tetris mark from them. Over the years that have elapsed since its foundation, The Tetris Company has become quite the fearsome competitor on the gaming market. Its main goal, ever since the late 90s, has been to gradually eliminate all the freeware and shareware versions of the classic game. While they have scored certain arguable wins, such as the ones against Apple and Google (both warned for distributing clones of the game), it will be interesting to see how the company handles the incessant expansion of the Internet, and subsequent proliferation of variant upon variant of the now classical game.
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