Sometimes a game is much more than just a game. In the swelter of the Cold War in 1984, a puzzle enthusiast by the name of Alexey Pajitnov created a new video game that continues to enthrall millions of players around the globe. As the U.S. and Soviet Union were embroiled in a match of wills with potentially catastrophic global consequences, Pajitnov's creation transcended the borders of resistance to become a worldwide sensation. The Story of Tetris outlines this complicated journey against the backdrop of tumultuous world history.
During this period of time, the idea of producing and selling your own invention could be a difficult and dangerous proposition. But it was an early goal for Pajitnov. After graduating with an applied mathematics degree from the Moscow Aviation Institute, he went to work at the government-run Dorodnitsyn Computing Centre of the Soviet Academy of Sciences. The research and development facility was far behind the Western world in terms of technology. But with the assistance of several co-workers, Pajitnov was nevertheless able to craft the first prototype of Tetris. At first, the game's instantly addictive qualities were enjoyed only by players across Moscow, but it would soon infect millions more who resided far beyond the confines of Soviet borders.
The story of how the game was later noticed and caught on in the West and other regions of the world is multi-layered. Torn between abiding by the rules of his government and wanting to make a success of his invention, Pajitnov had to navigate a delicate course of action. For his efforts, he was denied a share of the game's profits, a slight that was only rectified many years following the fall of the Soviet Union. The film recounts every detail of this process with great affection and admiration, including the intricacies of the game's creation, the many connections throughout the world who took the game under their wing, and the means by which Tetris became an international phenomenon.
The Story of Tetris is an infectious and intriguing portrait of a dreamer whose enthusiasm could not be contained by the constrictions of conflicting world powers.