Reading/Interest Level: Young Adult
Author: Box Brown
Publisher: First Second
The game Tetris, which is now one of the most well-known games in history, had humble beginnings. Before it became an international sensation, it began as a lowly computer programmer’s personal project—a way to pass the time. From there, it gained in popularity, and so began the corporate warfare of obtaining rights to the game. Through legal battles, binding contracts, and the work of tireless entrepreneurs, the game worked its way into the public focus and made Atari and Nintendo into household names. But the success of Tetris raises certain questions. Who does Tetris really belong to? Some would say it is still the work of the original creator, no matter what legal claim he has. Others might say that the ownership of the game can only be determined by a contract, so the game is entirely company property. But in considering the wide reach of Tetris, it may be possible that the truest “owners” of the game are those who know and love it best: the players.
Tetris: The Games People Play is a graphic novel and work of nonfiction outlining the history of Tetris from its inception to its use today. The novel even discusses ancient history, and how the development of games contributed to the eventual invention of Tetris. Though the book contains no objectionable content, it would be best suited to an older, young adult audience because of how detailed and information-dense the history is. Truly, unless a reader has an established knowledge of business law, the twists and turns in the legal history of Tetris will be difficult to follow. However, even without a full understanding of the legal narrative, the story of Tetris is a fascinating one, and it is humbling to see all the complexities that go on behind a seemingly simple game. The art definitely aids the storytelling and helps to keep a reader’s interest, even in the slower sections. Though the art is simple, the artist creates easily distinguishable likenesses of each figure, which helps to differentiate them, even when the information is overwhelming.