A lifelong love of puzzles and strategy gaming has led Moscow-born Alexey Pajitnov to worldwide recognition as one of the computer game industry's most renowned game designers. He is best known as the creator of Tetris, which on its 25th anniversary has sold more than 125 million copies on over 30 gaming platforms as the world's most popular electronic game. Today, Alexey spends much of his time working with Blue Planet Software to continue making Tetris exciting and fun for its millions of players.
In the past 25 years, Alexey has won numerous accolades for game design and his creation of Tetris, including the International Game Developers Association’s First Penguin Award in 2007 for “pioneering the casual games market.” In 2009, Tetris was named the #2 Top Console Game of all time by the Guinness Book of World Records.
In the 1980s, Alexey worked for the Moscow Academy of Sciences as a computer programmer. In June 1984, while working in his spare time, Alexey created a groundbreaking new electronic puzzle game called Tetris. Born out of Alexey’s love of puzzles and gaming, Tetris revolutionized puzzle games with distinctive “falling” pieces that players could arrange in real time along the bottom of the rectangular playing field, or “matrix,” in order to clear lines.
Tetris to the World:
A friendship with Blue Planet Software President and CEO Henk Rogers, then head of a Japanese software company, helped bring Tetris out of the Soviet Union in 1989 and into worldwide circulation in a historic licensing agreement with Nintendo that put millions of copies of the game on Game Boy and Nintendo consoles. In 1996, Alexey and Henk formed the business relationship that eventually would become a key part of The Tetris Company—still the exclusive source of all licenses to Tetris. Since his original creation of Tetris, Alexey has also helped produce several sequels to the game, including Tetris 2 and Super Tetris. Alexey relocated to the U.S. in 1991 with the help of Henk Rogers, and is now a resident of Washington State.
Notable Gaming Contributions
Just prior to moving to the U.S. in 1991, Alexey founded AnimaTek, a 3D software technology company in Moscow, along with his friend Dr. Vladimir Pokhiko. Together with Henk Rogers, they established an AnimaTek office in the United States to produce Procedurally Generated Animation. Alexey has also produced games with Bullet-Proof Software, Nintendo, and Spectrum Holobyte, including Faces, Welltris, Knight Moves and Hatris, as well as contributing to the puzzle design in the Super NES version of Yoshi’s Cookie. In 1996, Alexey joined Microsoft as the computer technology giant’s first staff game designer. There, he worked on the Microsoft Entertainment Collection Puzzle Pack, designing the game Pandora’s Box, which incorporated traditional jigsaw-style puzzles, and MSN Mind Aerobics. He was also part of the Microsoft Zone Group to create games for MSN, including Hexic, until leaving the company in 2004. Since leaving Microsoft as a staffer, Alexey has also contributed to game design as a consultant. In 2006, he returned to Microsoft to consult on the Xbox 360 version of Hexic. In addition, Alexey has also done some consulting work with Wildsnake Software.
Early Computer History, Education:
Alexey showed an early interest in games and by age 14 became fascinated with puzzles and mathematical tasks. He received his Masters degree in Applied Mathematics from the Moscow Institute of Aviation and went on to work on the pioneering fields of speech recognition and artificial intelligence.