Home > Resource of the Month Archive Detail

<< Prev 4/8/2007 Next >>

Tetromino Tennis?

In the mid-1980's at a conference in Sofia, Bulgaria (of all places), I watched some teens engrossed in playing a computer game under a stairwell. It was the original version of Tetris, brought to Bulgaria via Russia. My first thought was that it would be neat to bring this game to the United States....

As usual, my thoughts and actions were too slow. Created in Russia, Tetris is a great game involving mathematics, especially spatial perception. The game has an interesting history, a history that I easily could have been a part of (and perhaps rich as well).

Alexey Pajitnov and Dmitry Pavlovsky created Tetris in June 1985, while working for the Soviet Academy of Sciences in Moscow. Vadim Gerasimov, who moved the game to work on an IBM PC, claims that Pajitnov chose the name Tetris as a contraction of "tetromino tennis," where a tetromino is a shapes composed of four square blocks.

During the game, a random sequence of tetrominoes fall down from the top, with the object of the game being to move these tetrominoes sideways, rotate them 90 degrees, and create a horizontal line of blocks without gaps. If such a line is created, it disappears and the blocks above fall. The tetrominoes fall faster as the game progresses, with the game ending when the stack of tetrominoes reaches the top.

While new commercial versions of Tetris are currently being designed, many versions of Tetris have been temporaily removed from web sites. But, with some searching, you can still find free versions on the Internet:

  • Tea Tricks is a Java-version of Tetris
  • Tetris is a Flash-version of Tetris
  • YUI Tetris was constructed as part of a programmer's bet
  • Cubedelic is a reverse-version of Tetris
  • Jig Game is a jig-saw adaptation of Tetris
  • Pentominoes is a pentominoe game designed as a tribute to Tetris
Enjoy playing the game...challenge your students to play it, as a lot of good mathematics occurs indirectly.

And, if you have entra time on your hands, please watch a fascinating video on the history and creation of Tetris. The video certainly is worth sharing with your students.

As to the future of Tetris and its creator, consider this article from the journal Wired. The article was published in the 1994...what has happened since that time? The best response is to send you to the official Tetris web site.