Most of us like to play games, whether it is for relaxation or entertainment, and if it gives us money, all the better. Do you remember the “Maze Runner” trilogy where Thomas, the protagonist, is placed in a maze with no memory of the outside world? He tries to put together the ideas that come to him through his dreams and plans an escape from the maze into the real world. Observing his varied moves and the obstacles that he faces allows the viewer to be creative and think of possible plans of action to find an escape.
So it is with “Tetris,” When you feel that the characters are playing against each other, you just want the real hero to win. But the real hero in this game is Alexey Pajitnov, who has nothing to gain or lose. Nevertheless, we have another hero who wants to make a fortune out of Tetris, and therefore, he works tirelessly to gain the rights and give Alexey his due. He is a nerd for sure, but he knows to respect and honor the creator of the game, unlike his competitors, who cheat, playing deceptive games of their own, to make more money.
Henk is a passionate game designer and runs the Bullet-Proof Software company along with his wife, Akemi, the chief financial officer of the company. He got introduced to Tetris in 1988 at a Consumer Electronics Show and wanted to get the rights to produce and sell it in Japan, but he went through many odds. Henk goes straight to Hiroshi Yamauchi, the CEO of Nintendo, to request his partnership to publish the game in-house. After having received a positive reply, he goes to Eddie to discuss the idea so that he can get the financing he desires to make this plan work. When Eddie notices his passion and conviction, he offers him the loan with high-interest rates and keeps his house as collateral. But to his surprise, the rights had already been sold to Sega in Japan, and he had to stop working any further as Arcade rights reneged.
To overcome this hurdle, Yamauchi invites Henk to meet his colleagues in Seattle. Henk doesn’t waste any time; he jumps at every opportunity and therefore makes his way straight to meet Minoru Arakawa, the president of Nintendo in America, and Howard Lincoln, senior VP, and chief legal counsel. These two do not trust Henk, but they are surprised at the honesty that Henk displays. Henk, unworried about the remarks they make about him, observes the 8-Bit Graphics, a brand new Sharp LR35902 called the Game Boy and suggests packaging it with Tetris instead of Mario to sell millions of the Game Boy. They like the idea, but then, yet again, he has trouble as they are refused the arcade rights. So Henk challenges himself to go to Russia and get the rights. ELORG, the government body, makes it difficult for Henk to get access to the rights, as they, too, are confused and want to correct themselves from further discrepancies. They listen to Henk and get their earlier contract corrected. Henk becomes a clarifier for them, making them understand that they made a mistake while preparing the contract. Henk simultaneously comes in contact with the creator of the game, Alexey, and tries to strike up a friendly conversation with him. But the Russian citizen shrewdly brushes off every attempt by Henk.
Henk is not disappointed; he knows that his fight is just and that he is here to give justice to the one who deserves it. He respects Alexey and wants to also offer him the share that he, as the creator of the game, deserves. Henk wants to play it clean and never to cheat because he knows what is at stake. The moment he loses the challenge, he loses his family and his house. When he is doing the right thing despite all obstacles, Nikolai Belikov, who is careful not to be cheated, offers him the deal that he needs to revert as early as possible. Nikolai, being faithful to the government and thinking of its profit, sells the handheld and video game rights to Henk. Henk had risked everything to achieve this, and to his luck, his leap of faith was rewarded, and he later became the owner of the Tetris Company along with Alexey.
Alexey Leonidovich Pajitnov
Alexey is a programmer by day at the Soviet Computer Science Center, and by night he develops games for fun. It is because of this creative mind that today we have this addictive and intuitive game, Tetris. Alexey first created this game where there were falling blocks made with parentheses that were clubbed together, but it wasn’t IBM PC compatible. But later, he and his friends at work made the game compatible, making it possible for color graphics, 8-bit music, and floppy disks that copied and shared the game for free. Alexey’s game spread worldwide, and therefore publishers started requesting the rights to publish the game in different formats. Alexey had nothing to gain from it, but Robert Stein, who noticed the potentiality in the game, faxed ELORG numerous times to get the license. Alexey was out of the picture when the game was being purchased, sold, and resold. He is brought back only when Valentin Trifonov notices some inconsistency between the sales and the profits of the game. Alexey is the one who later wants to help Henk get the rights to the game and earn what he deserves.
Valentin is from the Central Committee and belongs to the Communist Party. It’s men like him who were responsible for the downfall of the Soviet Union. He notices that the government employees are busy playing the game rather than working, and therefore, he orders that the program be blocked from all the government systems. He notices the gap between the profit and fame of the game and wants to know more about it so that he can also get a share in the profits. He, being among the most powerful man in the USSR, becomes a monster who passes derogatory remarks about Sasha of the KGB. Valentin looks authentic in the beginning when he tries to crack the inconsistencies, but his crookedness comes to light when he asks Kevin for a bribe. And when Kevin denies it, he approaches his father, Robert, and strikes a deal. Regrettably, the deal doesn’t see the light of day, and thus, Sasha arrests Valentin for abuse of authority and corruption, which is basically breaking the law. Sadly, Valentin had thought that he was the law himself.
Robert Maxwell And Kevin Maxwell
Robert is a businessman, billionaire, and media tycoon. Kevin is his bratty son and the figurehead CEO of Mirrorsoft. Kevin takes pride in his company and arrogantly dismisses people who come his way. Robert’s father boasts of the friendship he has with Mikhail Gorbachev and thinks that he can get whatever he asks from his old mate. Robert bribes people to get whatever he wants, but Kevin is unaware of this. Wanting the rights to the game, Robert bribes Valentin, but unfortunately, falling short on money, they are caught. Robert stole $900 million from the company pension funds, and the company had accrued debts of more than $5 billion, which led to the destruction of his media empire and his mysterious death. Kevin is thereafter arrested for his father’s theft, and their company is declared bankrupt.
Robert of the Andromeda Software was the one who was fascinated by the game Tetris. He offered the Science Computer Center one hundred thousand pounds to market the game. And when he got the nod from the center he believed that he got the rights for everything. Therefore, he starts licensing games cheaply and reselling them for profit to the west. Robert sold it to Mirrorsoft to produce it in the United Kingdom. Later adamant about renewing his contract and also getting the handheld rights he visits ELORG but only manages to get the right to Tetris for the personal computer. Belikov had carefully added a clause that kept aside console rights in the deal which Robert wasn’t aware of and he is also denied the handheld rights to the game. Robert gets angry about it. He is also unhappy to see Mirrorsoft behind his back going to ELORG to outsmart him, that too by bribing the big heads at ELORG. Nevertheless, Robert continues to license the games with his existing rights.
Without the above corrupt and yet geeky characters, “Tetris” wouldn’t have been an interesting film to watch. And at the end of the day, you will desire to see a game developer and a businessman strike a deal and make it big.