Tetris is a surprising game. On paper, at least, it seems unlikely that something so basic should have done so well beyond the year 1975. Nevertheless, it’s been a consistently popular video game for decades. It was invented in Russia, and it was never expected to be as popular as it became. Yet, the reason it is so popular is that it meets the key criteria for fun in a game. That is, it has goals, rules, feedback, participation is voluntary, and there are unnecessary obstacles that keep the game challenging.
The aim in Tetris is simple; you bring down blocks from the top of the screen. You can move the blocks around, either left to right and/or you can rotate them. The blocks fall at a certain rate, but you can make them fall faster if you’re sure of your positioning. Your objective is to get all the blocks to fill all the empty space in a line at the bottom of the screen; whenever you do this, you’ll find that the blocks vanish and you get awarded some points.
A goal gives us a reason to play the game. Tetris offers an incredibly simple reason to play—pitting your wits against the computerized block dropper in order to last as long as you can.
Tetris has very simple rules: you can only move the pieces in specific ways; your game is over if your pieces reach the top of the screen; and you can only remove pieces from the screen by filling all the blank space in a line.
Rules give much needed structure to our play. A completely random environment offers no clue as to how to play and would be incredibly frustrating. How fortunate it is, then, that Tetris’s three rules are what shape it into such an award-winning game.