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Tetris: The Games People Play

3.80  ·  Rating details ·  2,372 ratings  ·  461 reviews
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
Paperback, 253 pages
Published October 11th 2016 by First Second
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Average rating 3.80  · 
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Wil Wheaton
Oct 31, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: graphic-novels
The story of Tetris, its creators, and its complex journey into the West is told in a beautiful graphic novel from Box Brown.

We get to meet all the people involved in the creation and distribution of the legendary game that changed the world and launched the GameBoy, and we get a little history of gaming while we're at it.

The art and color is beautiful. It's similar to Daryn Cooke's Parker books: one color shading the whole book, to great effect.

You think you know the history of Tetris, but I p
Sam Quixote
Jan 14, 2017 rated it it was ok
We’ve all played Tetris and enjoyed its blocky goodness (until the pieces start coming down too quickly and that damn long piece won’t appear and it’s game over, man, GAME OVER!!!). Box Brown’s Tetris: The Games People Play tells its origin story and unfortunately it’s not nearly as fun.

For a book ostensibly about Tetris, it takes it’s sweet time getting around to talking about it! It’s 70 pages before we meet Alexey Pajitnov, the Russian creator of Tetris. Up ‘til then there’s a truncated histo
Jon Nakapalau
The story over the rights to Tetris is a fantastic example of how video games can open cultural doors - Box Brown has outdone himself!
Aug 30, 2019 rated it liked it
Shelves: 2019, ircb-2019
Box Brown's book is an entertaining enough look at Tetris and the parade of legal battles and government red tape the game went through because it was developed in Russia. The creators were two engineers in the 80's who just wanted to make a fun game just to see if they could do it and had no designs on making money off it. I mean, this was Russia, pre-Glasnost. You could be thrown in jail for even voicing that thought. So when the Russia government gets involved in the licensing, things definit ...more
Dave Schaafsma
Oct 17, 2017 rated it liked it
Shelves: gn-non-fict
Full disclosure: I am not a (video) gamer and read this because it was at my library in the new graphic novels section and because it had Box Brown's name on it. I like his sweet attractive artwork and I liked his Andre the Giant quite a bit.

The history of psychology of games and gaming undergird this work, as the subtitle makes clear. And then you learn how Tetris emerged out of this, and lots of controversies about it, which I don't care about in the least, but it seems thorough and will appe
Apr 16, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: comix, non-fiction, 2018
Box Brown came onto my radar when he released his graphic novel treatment about the life of Andre The Giant.  While I’ve yet to read it, the critical acclaim he received for his work at the time made me want to seek out his other writings.  Unfortunately, Box Brown, along with several other things, seemed to have moved to that corner of my mind covered in cobwebs - until this weekend when I spotted his follow-up to the Andre book, Tetris: The Games People Play.

I really enjoyed this, which isn’t
Brown tells the fascinating - and litigous - tale of one of the most famous games in history. He begins the book looking at the concept of games/gaming over the millenia, tracing the earliest games and how they were created and played. While this section of the book was very entertaining, I wish it had been a separate book entirely - it was inserted into the story after the Tetris characters were already introduced and seemed out of place and extraneous.

MEMORIES! amirite?

Like most people in my
Peter Derk
Oct 28, 2016 rated it it was ok
I'm convinced there's a really interesting story in here, but I got really bogged down in who owned which rights to which versions of Tetris. Alexey, who invented Tetris, seems like a great guy who was willing to give up financial reward to see this great thing he made flourish. That's pretty inspiring. He made this thing that was so good that it HAD to be shared with the world, even if it meant that he wouldn't get rich off it while other people did.

But, as a book, there's just a lot of rights
May 20, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: graphic
Oh my god, I had no idea this story was so nuts!
Jun 15, 2018 rated it liked it
Hard to make corporate licensing battles interesting, but they try.
Sep 09, 2016 rated it liked it
Shelves: comics, nonfiction
Missed opportunities. The actual story of Tetris, how it was made, the rights struggle, and all that happened after is interesting and complicated enough on their own. There was no real need to bring in an overview of Nintendo's playing card days, or an examination of cave paintings. And it was missing the detail that was needed to make sense of a fairly complex rights issue. But it's a really good story, and when Brown does concentrate on what's important, it's a good read. The art is relativel ...more
Jan 22, 2019 rated it liked it
I learned a lot about Tetris; for example I had no idea it came out of Russia during the Cold War and that there were so many lawsuits surrounding it. This graphic novel was interesting, but the artwork was not to my taste.

Popsugar 2019-A Book Revolving Around a Puzzle or a Game
First Second Books
Oct 11, 2016 marked it as first-second-publications
Box does it again—an enthralling nonfiction work about another 1980s pop culture icon... TETRIS!

Making a book brought back a lot of nostalgia for all of us here at :01 and Box it is always a pleasure working with Box!
Aug 02, 2019 rated it really liked it
Tetris is one of the great classic video games. Here, Brown recounts the long and sordid tale of who has had the right to produce this foundational game. Brown is widely known for his book “Andre the Giant: Life and Legend,” a sequential art biography of the titular wrestling star. Stylistically, Tetris is very similar to that other work in some ways. However, the Tetris story, as Brown tells it, involves many different men (only men) from several different countries. Each section of the story i ...more
Matt Graupman
Apr 21, 2017 rated it really liked it
I spent a lot - maybe too much - of my childhood hunched in front of the TV, madly spinning Tetris blocks on my Nintendo. I was obsessed, my brothers were obsessed, and my mom was (the most) obsessed. Box Brown's latest pop culture history comic, "Tetris: The Games People Play," proves that we weren't the only ones. What we didn't know was that this simple and addictive video game had a wild and controversial evolution.

Conceived by a Russian scientist and mathematician as a time-wasting puzzle g
I had no idea Tetris had such a fascinating and controversy-ridden history! While trying to keep track of all the names throughout the story can get confusing, the essence still comes through. I appreciate how Brown ties gaming in with art and anthropology, even if it's just the tip of the iceberg. ...more
This book gives you the history of Tetris in an unusual format, which is a pretty cool idea on its own, but some things didn't work for me that well.

The bulk of the story is a bunch of people fighting over the rights to Tetris. There's a lot of characters, meetings, flying to Moscow and back. I agree that these things are important, but I don't know how to make that stuff more interesting. Some parts of the book read more like a list of facts than an actual narrative.

The book did have more inter
Jan 18, 2019 rated it really liked it
Found on Neil Pasricha's newsletter. A beautiful graphic novel (is it a "novel" if it is a true story?) about the development of Tetris, its complicated escape from the USSR, and the ensuing confusion about who owned the rights. There's also a fair bit of Nintendo history, since they ultimately ended up with the rights for handheld, which raised Tetris to stratospheric popularity levels.

I loved this story but agree with other reviewers that it's heavy on the rights ownership aspect; a bit litig
Carla Johnson-Hicks
This graphic novel title was a little deceiving. Yes, it talks about the game Tetris, but it covers a lot more. The story goes way back to the beginning of mankind to try and determine where and how the desire for gaming began and how it developed. It moves on to Japan and the history of Nintendo founded by Fusjiro Yamauchi. It began with a popular card game and grew into the technology giant we know today. About 2/3 of the way into the book we meet up with Alexey. We follow his process as he de ...more
Apr 07, 2017 rated it really liked it
Even as a child, I wondered about all the different versions and publishers for the game "Tetris" (and people still argue about which NES version was better), but never knew the story behind it. It turns out that the history of Tetris, as shown in this book, starts with a fairly innocent exploration of game design, but spirals into shady business deals, international intrigue, and questionable legal maneuvers. The art style is oddly appropriate -- I'm particularly impressed with how Box Brown ca ...more
Dec 20, 2016 rated it really liked it
Who knew Tetris was created by a Russian scientist who barely received any payout for his creation until he immigrated to America in the late 90s? Who knew Tetris was involved in a series of legal battles between Russian bureaucrats and tech giants like Atari and Nintendo? I sure didn't! A highly enjoyable graphic novel detailing the creation and subsequent world domination of the highly addictive game we all know and love. A bonus are the highly readable and deceptively simple panels colored in ...more
Mar 18, 2019 rated it really liked it
Tetris might be what brings you to read this book. It is about so much more though. The subtitle hints at the underlying subject of the book. Sure, the title game is sort of what launched video games as we know them. There are a lot of things that led up to the moment when it was developed and took a hold in our imaginations. Not surprisingly, Box Brown does a wonderful job digging into the history of the video game industry. The only real knock I have against this book is that it can drag a lit ...more
Jan 27, 2017 rated it really liked it
I had a few small gripes with this book here and there (some of the legal details could've been streamlined), but overall I love Box Brown's drawing style and the rhythm of his storytelling, and there are a lot of other things to love in this charming book. Recommended. ...more
Derek Royal
Oct 10, 2016 rated it really liked it
A fascinating read for anyone interested in not only Tetris, but video games and gaming culture as a whole.
Holly Hand Grenade
"The first game pieces were made from sheep and goat bones. Knuckles and ankles carved into something new for the purpose of fun."

This was SO much fun to read! I could not put it down and I am firmly a head-in-the-clouds fantasy reader. I don't even think you have to be into the game Tetris to enjoy this book.

The story is told in a very conversational manner with introductions to new "characters" in between each chapter. The exploration of each new subject is extremely easy to follow without mak
May 07, 2018 rated it it was ok
I would like to begin by saying that I am not an avid fan of graphic novels. However, some of them tell wonderful stories, stories worth to be illustrated. Art Spiegelman's "Maus" is definitely one of these books. I don't know whether the creation -and most of all- the world-wide distribution and commercial exploitation of Tetris can fall into this category.

Although the book starts off promisingly with the philosophy behind games and the conception of Tetris, it soon loses interest...Once I fin
Samantha W.
This was an excellent explanation of Tetris and how it began. I also really enjoyed all of the history of other gaming systems (Nintendo and so on).

Highly interesting. If you ever played Tetris you should check this one out.
Sep 29, 2017 rated it liked it
Interesting, but far more of a business biography than the examination of the appeal of Tetris that the cover copy led me to believe. Still, a worthwhile look into the early-middle years of the video game boom and the complexities that ensue from taking an idea from creation to broad commercial availability.
Feb 07, 2019 rated it it was amazing
There was a period of about 5 years where I could not go to sleep without playing Tetris on my Gameboy. Many nights as I cleared away all the events of the day I quieted my mind by focusing solely on clearing away the lines. Just like the blocks in the game, the Gameboy would suddenly drop hard onto my face as my heavy eyes gave in to level 75 or 80 and I'd drift off to sleep dreaming of falling blocks. I have lost hundreds of dollars in the arcade cabinet playing this game. I own at least 6 or ...more
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