Tetris, Community, & The Staying Power of Puzzles

Over a month ago I watched this John Green video where he posed the question, “Why are humans suddenly getting better at Tetris?”

It’s an interesting question because Tetris has been in the United States since 1989 and as of April 2014, it had sold more than 495 million copies. This is a landmark game – one of the most popular of all time – and recently all sorts of Tetris records keep getting broken.

Two Takeaways

Two unrelated concepts jumped out at me watching this video:

  • Online community
  • The staying power of puzzles

Online Community

As much as I enjoy playing escape games, I love the people I’ve met through these games even more, both online and in real life.

When I think about the online escape room community, I think about the escape room slack.

We’ve found our tribe among this group. I’ve learned so much from our ongoing dialogue. The richness of conversations between players and creators alike makes us all better.

While the conversations are all over the place, if I want to have a meaningful conversation as I work through ideas about playing, reviewing, or designing, this is where I go.

It’s also where I go when I need to learn how to attack a puzzle that is beyond my current skill level. Someone there always knows how to do it.

Tetris being played on the NES.
Image via Wikipedia

The Staying Power of Puzzles

People frequently ask us if escape rooms are a fad that will evaporate. When I ponder the question, I think about all of the other puzzles that I’m sure were viewed as fads.

People love puzzles. Puzzles have a depth and lifecycle that seems to exceed so many other pastimes.

Crosswords, Sudoku, Rubik’s Cubes, and Tetris all stuck around. They’ve evolved, but they continue to maintain their audience.

Even disregarding video games that are specifically puzzles, there’s an incredible number of games that work puzzle-play into the mechanics. That isn’t an accident. Puzzles are compelling content.


  1. I agree. We have some “tetris” related stuff in our arcade escape room (don’t worry that’s not a spoiler!) and that game really does have staying power. Before opening we worried it might be considered outside knowledge by some, but we soon discovered that everyone knows the basic premise of how the game works in one way or another. We have information about it in the room just in case, but it’s never been needed. We were pleasantly surprised to discover that even the young generations were familiar with it from other “falling blocks” type games.

    1. That’s really interesting. I think that there are few video games that are that universal.

    2. Sheryl – where’s ur game? I am intrigued and would love to play it!

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