E3: Hey Tetris guy — did you get paid?

June 3, 2009

Human nature is a funny thing.

Here in Los Angeles, at the E3 video game conference, the makers of the ubiquitous Tetris celebrated 25 years of letting us conjoin falling bricks in one terribly addictive game, a longevity enjoyed by few in any industry. It has sold more than 125 million copies. Nice.

So what is one of the first questions asked of Alexey Pajitnov, the game’s Russian creator, at an E3 press conference? DUDE! DID YOU GET PAID?

Funny thing is, I interviewed Pajitnov, and after he explained how the rights to the game changed hands several times over the years — hey, he created it while working as an engineer for the Soviet Union — the first question I asked was: Dude, did you get paid?

His answer was cryptic, but you can see the smile between the lines:

“In 1996 the rights came back to me, and I am pretty fine with it.”

Check out this video, where he answers a similar question in front of the E3 crowd.

One comment

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I actually saw a documentary on this a while back. Evidently, it was a really big deal. One of the guys responsible for licensing the game to foreign companies on behalf of the Soviets was threatened to close a deal with a Japanese firm or else. All sorts of legal and political wrangling, as well as a fair amount of international espionage, were involved.

Posted by Stephen | Report as abusive