Everything I really needed to know about life

I learned from playing Tetris (TM)

Geoffrey A. Landis

  • Anybody remember Tetris? A silly little computer game, but for a while everybody I know was addicted to it. This is a silly little piece I wrote about my view as to why it was so addictive: Tetris is a metaphor for life. I couldn't think of where to publish it, so I sent it to the Mensa Bulletin, where it appeared several years ago.

    There's this guy who claims that everything he really needed to know he learned in Kindergarten. He's hopelessly out of date.

    There's this Russian video game called Tetris{TM). It's amazingly simple--all you have to do is stack up units of four blocks--and it's surprising how much there is to it. It was one of the first of the video games (well, who remembers Pong, anyway?) where you don't have to shoot anybody, you don't manipulate a little figure on a screen, and nothing gets blown up in 128 colors. In fact, the game is entirely abstract. You have groups of four squares, put together in various combinations, that fall down from the top to the bottom of the video screen.

    The reason it's so fascinating, of course, is quite simple. For all that it looks like child's play, Tetris is really about life. Things come down, and you have to deal with them.

    So, sorry, Mr. Fulgham. Everything I really needed to know about life, I learned from playing Tetris.

    What I Learned About Life From Playing Tetris



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