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Tetris-playing teenager first to beat 'unwinnable' video game

Author
NZ Herald,
Publish Date
Thu, 4 Jan 2024, 3:59pm
Tetris has been called 'the perfect enactment of the overtasked lives of Americans'. Photo / AP
Tetris has been called 'the perfect enactment of the overtasked lives of Americans'. Photo / AP

Tetris-playing teenager first to beat 'unwinnable' video game

Author
NZ Herald,
Publish Date
Thu, 4 Jan 2024, 3:59pm

A 13-year-old from Oklahoma claims to be the first human player to have beaten Tetris, 40 years after the classic computer game was created. 

It took Willis Gibson just 38 minutes to beat the computer. 

Recording the game the teenager declared “I’m going to pass out, I can’t feel my fingers.” 

Reaching level 157, and the moment the score rolled past 999,999 points, Gibson caused the game to crash. 

The popular scrolling game was created in 1984 by Soviet computer engineer Alexey Pajitnov. Players must navigate increasingly fast coloured blocks into a pattern and avoid being overwhelmed. It’s a game that was designed to theoretically be played forever. 

13-year-old Willis Gibson is believed to be the first human player to defeat the video game Tetris. Photo / Blue Scuti, YouTube13-year-old Willis Gibson is believed to be the first human player to defeat the video game Tetris. Photo / Blue Scuti, YouTube 

Tetris found instant popularity after being publicly released by Japanese publisher Nintendo on the NES (Nintendo Entertainment System) in 1989. 

The game’s theme tune ‘Korobeiniki’ and colourful design featuring of St Basil’s cathedral are a nod back to its Russian origins. 

This story of the game’s unlikely migation from the Soviet Union to a blockbuster success which was recently dramatised in a movie adaptation. 

In 2010 it was discovered that players could trigger a crash that would result in no more blocks being created, which was considered to be “beating Tetris” according to website GameScout. Though previously this had only been achieved by AI or robotic players, competitive gamer Thor Aackerlund found a technique to allow human players to reach past level 30. 

On January 2, 13-year-old Gibson became the first human to achieve this goal. 

Publishing the feat on his social media channels, where he uses the alias Blue Scuti, Gibson said it was not his intention. 

“When I started playing this game I never expected to ever crash the game, or beat it,” he wrote. 

The 38-minute play also broke several world records including highest overall score. 

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