Oklahoma Teen First Person to Win Tetris

The 40-year-old unbeatable game has finally been conquered.

Jan 10, 2024


Oklahoma Teen First Person to Win Tetris | The 40-year-old unbeatable game has finally been conquered.

A 13-year-old from Oklahoma has done what was thought to be impossible. Willis Gibson is the first real-live gamer to reach level 157 on the classic Tetris game.

The game was created by Soviet software engineer Alexey Pajitnov in 1985 and he was instantly hooked on the prototype, according to NPR. It was released on the Nintendo Entertainment system in 1989 and immediately became immensely popular worldwide.

While there have been many versions of Tetris since its beginning 40 years ago, all have the same basic premise as the classic game. Players have to stack differently shaped blocks as they fall with the goal of using the blocks to form solid lines. As the player progresses, the blocks fall faster making the game very difficult. Tetris can give your brain a real mental workout.

The amazing win
The simplicity combined with the difficulty of the classic game has led to its long-lasting appeal. “[What made me want to play Tetris] was mainly its simplicity. It's easy to start playing it and understand it, but it's very difficult to master it,” Willis told NPR.

Tetris was considered unbeatable because the programmer never expected people to make it very far. In fact, until 2011, players believed that level 29 was the highest that could be achieved, reported CNN. But Willis, who has been playing the game since he was 11, was able to reach level 157; also known as the kill level where the game crashes.

Willis, using his player name Blue Scuti, was so shocked by his win that he said, “I’m going to pass out, I can’t feel my fingers,” said in a video he posted on YouTube on January 2, 2024, after he caused the game to crash at level 157.

“When I started playing this game I never expected to ever crash the game, or beat it,” he wrote in the video’s description.

He is the first human Tetris player to do so, according to CNN, and it took him less than 39 minutes to reach the kill screen. Tetris playing artificial intelligence was able to reach level 236 in 2021, but it had to manipulate the parameters of the game to do so.

Willis won third place in the Tetris World Championship in 2023, according to NPR. He was the youngest player to do so. Willis typically plays three to five hours a day. He dedicated his win to his father, who passed away a month earlier.

What is the game’s staying power?
Over 200 official varieties have been released on at least 70 systems, according to the Guinness World Records. The total includes video games, computer games, and mobile gaming. A movie about its creation was released on Apple TV in March, 2023.

“It hooked with us in almost like a primitive state,” Victor Lucas, a gaming expert behind the TV series Electric Playground, told CNN. “It transcends video games, quite frankly, like checkers or chess. It’s just one of these Juggernaut play experiences that any human being can understand immediately and be consumed by eternally.” Sometimes, simpler things are best.

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Bonnie has dedicated her life to promoting social justice. She loves to write about empowering women, helping children, educational innovations, and advocating for the environment & sustainability.