Classic Tetris for the Nintendo Entertainment System
The community built around a 30 y/o video game and why it’s important
Tetris is one of those games that everyone knows; some people are simply aware of its existence and describe it as, “that block game”, while others have an intense fascination with it.
I am the latter.
My Relationship With Tetris
I was born in 1995, so I did not grow up with an NES, nor an original Gameboy. I owned a Gameboy Color, where I played the original Gameboy version of Tetris, and to be honest, I was just a 7-year-old kid trying his best. I did not have any sort of fascination with the game other than a way to waste time when my copy of Pokémon Red Version wasn’t around, and I wasn’t exactly getting record-breaking high scores.
My real fascination with Tetris began in middle school when I got an iPod Touch and mobile Tetris had just come out. I played it during math class, on the bus ride home, and even in bed before sleeping. It was an addiction. I was obsessed with finally becoming good at something.
After a while, life stress was a thing and I didn’t play it as much. The Tetris app went downhill due to ads, and I just wasn’t having as much fun with it.
Then Tetris Effect: Connected came out for Steam (PC) this year and, well, now it’s the most played game in my library with just under 100 hours on record.
Everything about Tetris Effect is fascinating, from the music choice, level designs, effect modes, and who they hired to help design the multiplayer levels of the game — Greentea. I was hooked.
Who the hell is Greentea?
Greentea is the nickname of 21-year-old, Japanese, Tetris Grandmaster Champion, Tomohiro Tatejima.
He goes by Greentea while he is competing in Tetris competitions, which makes him easy to remember and makes it easier for commentators of the match to mention his name quickly throughout the game.
I found out about Greentea while watching the Classic Tetris World Championship (CTWC) on YouTube and he’s incredibly fun to watch. He makes facial expressions that show how much fun he’s having, and during his livestreams on Twitch, his reactions to misplacements and level increases are incredibly funny, and to be honest, pretty damn cute.
When he lost to his competitor at this year’s CTWC, he ended the match by giving him a double thumbs-up to the camera, as well as putting his hands in the shape of a heart, all with a big smile on his face.
The Classic Tetris Community
As you might be able to tell by Greentea’s reaction to losing a game in competition, he’s an incredibly good sport and is supportive of everyone he plays against; however this doesn’t only go for Tomohiro, it goes for every single person I’ve ever watched and talked to in the Classic Tetris community.
At least in the Discord servers I’m a part of, there doesn’t seem to be any negativity thrown to new players. Only constructive feedback on their gameplay if asked for it, and everyone responds to questions in a very kind way. Even though this version of NES Tetris came out in 1984, there’s no gatekeeping happening. No one seems to make fun of, or are hostile to those entering the community this year, while another could have been playing Classic Tetris since the ’90s. Everyone is incredibly supportive.
The CTWC has had veterans, like Jonas Neubauer and Trey Harrison, competing since they were at a young age, but there are also people entering the community in only the past couple of years, who have since broken World Records that no one even knew was possible. People are starting to see how this is something they can get very good at in a year or two and won’t get stepped on by those who have been playing for 20+ years.
John Green, a huge fan of NES Tetris, made a really interesting video on why people are suddenly getting very good at Tetris, and you can watch it here. Due to the internet being a thing, and due to the community being not too big nor too small, it’s an amazing way for helpful information and tips to be spread. This helps new and old users alike get better at a hobby they care so much about.
“Smaller communities can be more tightly knit. Like when 100 million people are talking, it’s hard to hear anything but noise.”
I could go on and on about why Classic Tetris is growing, or why Tetris Effect is so good and needs very little improvements, or why I can say “one more game” when playing Tetris on my NES clone and then be up for 3 more hours, but I’ll save those for future articles.
What people from outside of this community need to know, is that there are still ways for an online community to grow in 2021 without it becoming toxic. Yes, social media has a bad wrap, and, for the most part, is bad in general for our mental health, but when used in the right ways, it can help us find new passions.
It can help us get better at things we care about, help us meet new people from across the world that become close friends, and inspire us to try new things and find that, no matter what our age, we can discover new passions that fascinate us and make us think differently about our world.