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Another Tetris World Record Completely Demolished! What Is Going On?!

Tetris was created by Alexey Pajitnov 40 years ago. The NES version has been out since 1989. You’d think that people would have “solved” the game long ago. But humans, properly motivated, are relentlessly inventive, and the past few months have seen a flurry of record-setting activity that is remarkable for a 35-year-old game.

It’s only been a little more than a month since a 13-year-old player named Blue Scuti reached the kill screen for the first time in history, a feat only performed previously by an AI. Now it’s been done twice more and the world record for points changed hands three times in three days.

And then just three weeks later, in mid-January, a player named PixelAndy absolutely destroyed the highest score world record. Here’s the engaging story about how he did it, including a surprising family rivalry and a clever strategic innovation:

I’ve written before about how great these video game analysis videos are at communicating how innovation works:

This is a great illustration of innovation in action. There’s a clearly new invention, based on prior effort (standing on the shoulders of giants), that allows for greater capabilities and, though it’s still too early to tell in this case, seems likely to shift power to people who utilize it. And it all takes place inside a small and contained world where we can easily observe the effects.

Discussion  4 comments

CW Moss

It's like the 4-minute mile. Impossible until it isn't. What a joy!

I wonder how deeply those players experience the Tetris effect:

Early on, when I was playing a lot chess, in the middle of a conversation I could see a chess board of our conversation. Thankfully as I've slowed down, that has gone away. I don't think it's healthy to see conversation as a winning/losing proposition.

Jason KottkeMOD

Oh man, I had the Tetris effect bad when I was a kid. I remember playing for hours at a time on the Game Boy and then reading Where the Red Fern Grows and seeing Tetris pieces formed by chunks of text.

Re: "conversation as a winning/losing proposition", that reminds me of the scene in Arrival where Louise, a linguist, explains the issue with zero-sum communication.

CW Moss

In 3rd grade, when reading Red Fern as a class, I bawled my eyes out and I remember my teacher made fun of how I blew my nose. Memories!

PS - Dune 2 in just a couple weeks. Yee!

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I understand the technique is completely different, and this may be a dumb question, but is there something about playing on an emulator that makes it easier?

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