Myke Olson
September 03, 2002
LCC 4400
Arcade Games (Week 3)


Tetris is one of those arcade-style games that really sucks you in...and not just the hard-core skip-school-to-hang-out-in-the-soda-fountain type gamers. Tetris is the arcade game for the rest of us. You are presented with several differently shaped pieces; the object is to arrange them so that a continuous line is made across the screen. When you do, that line disappears and you get points. When, however, the blocks fill the screen up to the top, the game is over.

I remember in my earlier days, playing Tetris on the original Nintendo Entertainment System (NES) as well as on Nintendo's portable game console, the GameBoy. I passed many hours during car trips playing Tetris and moving the handheld GameBoy from side-to-side to help motivate the pieces to move to the side faster (well, it felt like it helped). With the addition of a second GameBoy and connection cable, we could play a simple network version of the game. We would both get the same pieces in the same order and whoever got the most points before someone filled up the screen won. The simple tone-based sounds added to the intense battle. Doot-doot-doot-doo doo doot. AHH! Game over...I almost had it!

As I got older and started babysitting for the neighbors, they still played Tetris on their Super Nintendo. Same concept for the game, but with better graphics and better sound. These kids were in the same generation that stopped playing football out in the backyard and instead sat in the living room for hours non-stop moving bricks around and trying to line them up. I'm not sure that is so much of a bad thing, though. While Real Life sports games certainly teach hand-eye coordination and physical endurance/strength, the kids playing Tetris are building things...setting a foundation for later in life. Perhaps that's why Tetris was appealing to me as well. I wasn't the play-football-in-the-backyard type of kid as much as I used to build things for hours with Legos or set up model train layouts in the basement. Even the first Tetris blocks almost looked like Legos...with the little circles on top to connect to the other pieces.

This week, we're discussing how arcade-style games can be addictive. I was never one of those kids that skipped class to play Galaga at the soda fountain, like David Lightman (Matthew Broderick) in the classic movie WarGames. But, I was able to get into Tetris and become addicted to it: from the 16-color version on the original Nintendo, to long car trips playing networked Tetris on the black and white GameBoy, to watching other kids playing on the Super Nintendo. Tetris quickly became a classic, addictive arcade game...that you could also play at home or in the car.