In Review: Tetris – The Games People Play by Box Brown


By Box Brown
Publisher: SelfMadeHero
Out: Now

The Book: It is, perhaps, the perfect video game. Simple yet addictive, Tetris delivers an irresistible, unending puzzle that has players hooked. Play it long enough and you’ll see those brightly colored geometric shapes everywhere. You’ll see them in your dreams.

Alexey Pajitnov had big ideas about games. In 1984, he created Tetris in his spare time while developing software for the Soviet government. Once Tetris emerged from behind the Iron Curtain, it was an instant hit. Nintendo, Atari, Sega game developers big and small all wanted Tetris. A bidding war was sparked, followed by clandestine trips to Moscow, backroom deals, innumerable miscommunications, and outright theft.

New York Times bestselling author Box Brown untangles this complex history and delves deep into the role games play in art, culture, and commerce. For the first time and in unparalleled detail, Tetris: The Games People Play tells the true story of the world’s most popular video game…

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The Review: Box Brown unravels the story of Tetris and how it came to be the iconic game it is today from conception, troubles over ownership to the hopeful future. The design of this book is what strikes me the most as I first saw the cover, and when I began to flick through the pages. Brown has opted for a limited colour scheme and executed it perfectly to accompany the story.

It all begins with a simple introduction of the creator of Tetris, Alexey Pajitnov and his friend Vladimir Pokhilko.

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We see a quaint moment of Alexey naively discussing a puzzle he’d like to model on his computer with his friend, before we’re lead on to a brief history of gaming. The tagline “the games people play” really comes into significance here as you begin to realise to first fully appreciate the story of a game with such a rich history as Tetris, you need to appreciate the context of what lead up to it. You may think the story is beginning to trail off, but as I quickly realised it was all part of the same story.

Brown continues where he left off with Alexey and takes us through the initial thoughts and problems he encounters on his way to creating the first version of the game we all know today. As Tetris becomes a worldwide phenomenon, we learn the ins and outs of what became a dispute over legal rights with some trickery along the way.

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Tetris: The Games People Play S5Brown uses layout instinctively, with a bit of experimenting here and there, but it always communicates well. The use of black, white and yellow is done masterfully showing a commitment to the colour scheme and considers the lighting of each page and scene. Tetris may have worked just as well with black line art but the yellow really accentuates the artwork and is somewhat reminiscent of the original black and yellowish appearance of the game.

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Tetris really gets into the story to what led to the success of the game and hands some nice little bits of information to you here and there that really add to the story, giving you a chuckle amidst what could have been a straight retelling of gaming history. You can really tell Brown has done his research and it’s all in all a delightful book to read.

Tetris is by Box Brown, published in the UK by SelfMadeHero

• See more of Box Brown’s work at

Review by Edwin Burrow

Edwin is an Illustrator and Comic Artist from Morecambe. He studied BA (Hons) Illustration at The University of Cumbria in Carlisle. He’s currently working as a freelance Illustrator while he work on comic stories that he self-publishes.

• Check out his web site at | Follow him on Twitter @edwinburrow

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