Tetris vs. Pong: A question of creativity?

Mal | Art Process and Creativity | Wednesday, June 24th, 2009

 photo credit: mat.teo 

While listening to NPR radio the other day, I learned that the ubiquitous video game Tetris turns 25 this year.

The game’s original programmer, Alexey Pajitnov, was interviewed and mostly ended up talking about the experience of trying to own the rights to his creative work, which was conceived during the 1980’s in communist Russia (and which probably explains that awesome theme music). Well, while that raises all kinds of interesting questions about who owns creative output, what really caught my attention was a throw-away question toward the end of the interview.

BOB GARFIELD: Now, I have to go back to the ’70s, actually, and I remember playing one of the early video games called Pong, which was developed by Atari. And when I think back to how ridiculous I was, to be putting quarters into machines in video arcades, to play that game, you know, I feel like an idiot. But I don’t feel like an idiot, going back to my first experience, more than two decades ago, with Tetris. Why does this game have such legs?

ALEXEY PAJITNOV: Well, many people have different opinion about that. But I still like Pong, and I wouldn’t mind to put couple of quarters to enjoy it. I don’t see anything wrong with it, by the way. But as far as Tetris is concerned, the game is very simple and it has very natural user interface. It has some kind of creative style. In most of the game you just shoot and destroy. In Tetris you try to build something, to put the order in the scales of random pieces. And probably that’s what make you feel a little bit better about what you’re doing with your quarters.

(You can hear the entire interview or read a transcript at the On the Media website. I recommend you do so, because Alexey’s Russian accent really adds to the experience.)

Tetris is a simple video game, yes. It can be addictive and a tremendous waste of time. It does, however, require some creative problem solving. There are a multitude of ways to solve the problem of tetris. It is, as Pajitnov notes, more about building something stable than tearing something down.

Pong is not about destruction, but is a game requiring some skill and minimal creative problem solving. Playing it  can quickly turn into a boring, repetitive tasks. It has had very little staying power in terms of popularity and perpetuation — and why would it? Who needs more boring repetitive tasks in their world?

As an interesting note, if you search for “tetris” on flickr, you’ll find all kinds of crazy creations — tetris halloween costumes, cupcakes, even jewelry! Searching for “pong,” on the other hand, returns mostly images of the original game, its packaging, and other retro-philic stuff. Does tetris itself encourage more creativity? More building and making? There is a recent study that suggests tetris may help to ameliorate the effects and memories of trauma. Is it the videogame that does it? Or is there something inherently healing about using that creative part of our brains? We may never know, but I think you know where my bias lies.

To me, this building something — this making order of my world through creativity — pays great dividends. Like Pajitnov, I do feel better when I spend my “quarters” on pursuits that build rather than destroy. It’s a privilege to spend these coins of time, effort, energy, and other resources which are in short supply on building a creative life.

What about you? Where do you spend your “quarters?”


  1. although internet sites we backlink to below are considerably not associated to ours, we feel they’re actually worth a go by means of, so have a look

    Comment by pornofilmpjes — 16 June 2019 @ 11:36 pm

  2. Usually I do not learn post on blogs, but I would like to say that this write-up very pressured me to take a look at and do it! Your writing taste has been amazed me. Thank you, very great article.

    Comment by Business Technology — 16 June 2019 @ 11:42 pm

  3. cialis 5 mg for sale [url=http://cialisle.com]generic cialis online[/url] how far in advance cialis.

    Comment by buy cialis — 17 June 2019 @ 1:31 am

  4. Every once in a whilst we opt for blogs that we study. Listed beneath would be the most current websites that we pick out

    Comment by water heater waterbury — 17 June 2019 @ 4:08 am

  5. دوربین

    Superb website! I identified it although surfing all around on Yahoo Information. Do you have any tips on how to get detailed in Yahoo News? I’ve been trying for a even though but I never look to get there! Cheers

    Trackback by کاربرد دوربین های مدار بسته — 17 June 2019 @ 6:13 am

  6. This site was… how do you say it? Relevant!!
    Finally I’ve found something which helped me.
    Thanks a lot!

    Comment by Alvaro Augusto Vidigal — 17 June 2019 @ 11:12 am

  7. You are a very capable person!

    Comment by travel souvenir — 17 June 2019 @ 11:19 am

  8. I as well as my guys were following the excellent tactics from the blog and then all of the sudden got an awful suspicion I had not thanked the web site owner for those secrets. My boys ended up for that reason passionate to read them and have now quite simply been loving them. Thanks for genuinely indeed accommodating and also for opting for these kinds of amazing subject areas most people are really needing to understand about. My very own sincere apologies for not saying thanks to you earlier.

    Comment by health and fitness  — 17 June 2019 @ 11:27 am

  9. Its like you read my mind! You seem to know a lot about this, like you wrote the book in it or something. I think that you can do with some pics to drive the message home a bit, but other than that, this is wonderful blog. A fantastic read. I will certainly be back.

    Comment by cake recipes — 17 June 2019 @ 11:30 am

  10. Every weekend i used to go to see this web page, for the reason that i wish for
    enjoyment, for the reason that this this site conations actually pleasant funny data too.

    Comment by Socopa Corretora — 17 June 2019 @ 11:31 am

  11. Thank you a bunch for sharing this with all people you actually recognize what you are talking approximately! Bookmarked. Please also discuss with my web site =). We will have a link trade agreement among us!

    Comment by trinidad insurance companies — 17 June 2019 @ 12:00 pm

  12. I visited multiple web pages except the audio feature for audio songs present at this website is in fact fabulous.

    Comment by Socopa Corretora — 17 June 2019 @ 12:30 pm

  13. I’m pretty pleased to find this site. I need to to thank you for your
    time for this particularly fantastic read!! I definitely enjoyed every little bit of it and I have you book marked to look
    at new information in your site.

    Comment by Socopa Corretora — 17 June 2019 @ 12:31 pm

  14. Financial advisors enterprise is folks business.

    Comment by http://tinyurl.com/yxqhaop3 — 17 June 2019 @ 1:20 pm

  15. Hello There. I found your blog using msn. This is an extremely well written article.
    I’ll be sure to bookmark it and come back to read more of your useful information. Thanks for the post.
    I’ll definitely comeback.

    Comment by Nilo Lemos Neto — 17 June 2019 @ 2:14 pm

  16. Every when in a whilst we select blogs that we read. Listed below are the most current web sites that we pick out

    Comment by iptv 4 me — 17 June 2019 @ 3:10 pm

  17. A financial advisor is your planning partner.

    Comment by tinyurl.com — 17 June 2019 @ 3:12 pm

  18. Hey! Would you mind if I share your blog with my myspace group?
    There’s a lot of people that I think would really appreciate your content.
    Please let me know. Thanks

    Comment by Socopa Corretora — 17 June 2019 @ 3:42 pm

  19. usually posts some extremely exciting stuff like this. If youre new to this site

    Comment by liteblue login — 17 June 2019 @ 3:49 pm

  20. Every weekend i used to pay a quick visit this site, as i want enjoyment, since this this website conations genuinely pleasant funny data too.

    Comment by Socopa Corretora — 17 June 2019 @ 4:27 pm

  21. we like to honor lots of other web websites around the net, even when they arent linked to us, by linking to them. Underneath are some webpages worth checking out

    Comment by liteblue.usps.gov — 17 June 2019 @ 4:44 pm

  22. viagra piller online

    Comment by RannevFatrY — 17 June 2019 @ 6:11 pm

  23. Just want to say your article is as astounding. The clearness in your post
    is simply cool and i could assume you’re an expert on this
    subject. Fine with your permission allow me to grab your RSS feed to keep
    updated with forthcoming post. Thanks a million and please continue the gratifying work.

    Comment by Maria Elisabeth Bettamio Vivone — 17 June 2019 @ 8:03 pm

  24. All types of investments come with sure dangers.

    Comment by Lélio Vieira Carneiro Júnior — 17 June 2019 @ 9:34 pm

  25. This is the perfect site for anybody who hopes to understand this
    topic. You realize so much its almost tough to argue
    with you (not that I really will need to…HaHa). You definitely put a
    new spin on a topic that’s been discussed for decades.
    Great stuff, just excellent!

    Comment by Banco Paulista SA — 17 June 2019 @ 10:38 pm

  26. I am genuinely grateful to the owner of this web page who has shared
    this great piece of writing at at this time.

    Comment by Maria Elisabeth Bettamio Vivone — 17 June 2019 @ 11:37 pm

  27. I do agree with all the ideas you’ve presented in your post. They are very convincing and will definitely work. Still, the posts are too short for starters. Could you please extend them a little from next time? Thanks for the post.

    Comment by web page — 17 June 2019 @ 11:59 pm

  28. Way cool! Some very valid points! I appreciate you writing this write-up and the rest of the site is also very good.

    Comment by Alvaro Augusto Vidigal — 18 June 2019 @ 12:11 am

  29. Yesterday I was out of money. I couldn’t even pay the rent. Thankfully, I found out about this terrifically good service which gives you coin instantly. Check it out online payday loans

    Comment by Jameswek — 18 June 2019 @ 12:14 am

  30. I obtained 2 networked blog setup of a solitary blog in facebook. I intend to remove of them. Is there any kind of means to delete only one networked blog keeping the an additional as it is?.

    Comment by cbd oil for dogs with voice box — 18 June 2019 @ 12:43 am

  31. Why visitors still use to read news papers when in this technological globe
    the whole thing is accessible on net?

    Comment by Alvaro Augusto Vidigal — 18 June 2019 @ 1:17 am

  32. Ahaa, its good conversation regarding this article here at this webpage, I have read all that, so at this time me also commenting here.

    Comment by GENPOWER ENERGY — 18 June 2019 @ 1:34 am

  33. I am really inspired along with your writing skills and
    also with the format on your blog. Is this
    a paid theme or did you modify it your self?
    Anyway keep up the excellent high quality writing, it’s uncommon to see a great blog like this one today..

    Comment by Alvaro Augusto Vidigal — 18 June 2019 @ 1:43 am

RSS feed for comments on this post. TrackBack URI

Leave a comment

Powered by WordPress | Theme by Roy Tanck | Free SEO by Court's Internet Marketing School | Get Tranquility White WP Theme

Technorati Profile SEO Powered by Platinum SEO from Techblissonline