Henk B. Rogers
Considered one of the visionaries of computer games, Henk Rogers helped change the face of the industry as the entrepreneur responsible for bringing Tetris to the United States and world market. Under Henk’s direct leadership, Tetris has become one of the world’s top-selling games with over 125 million copies sold, and, after 25 years since its “birth,” that number is still growing.
Early Computer Game History:
A native of Holland, Henk moved to New York City in 1964 and attended Stuyvesant High School, where he programmed a computer for the first time. In 1972, Henk moved to Hawaii, where he majored in computer science at the University of Hawaii and spent his free time playing Dungeons and Dragons. In 1976, Henk relocated to Japan, got married and started a family. Six years later, he designed, developed and published the first Role Playing Game in Japan—The Black Onyx—which, in 1984, ranked as the #1 game in Japan. Bullet-Proof Software, which published the game, was Henk’s first computer game publishing business.
In 1988, having published numerous computer games from around the world in the Japanese market, Henk discovered Tetris at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas. Tetris would become Bullet-Proof Software’s biggest hit, selling millions in Japan on the Nintendo Family Computer. Henk’s biggest coup, though, took place in 1989 when he flew to Moscow to negotiate with the Soviets for the Game Boy rights to Tetris. He subsequently licensed the Game Boy rights to Nintendo, where it would go on to make their handheld platform the most popular portable game system of its time and, in the process, sell well over 35 million copies of Tetris.
During the negotiation process, Henk befriended Tetris author and fellow game designer Alexey Pajitnov and eventually helped him and his family relocate to the United States. In 1996, Henk and Alexey formed the business relationship that eventually would become a key part of The Tetris Company—still the exclusive source of all licenses to Tetris, one of the most popular computer games ever.
Blue Planet Software, Other Digital Companies:
In 1995, Henk founded Blue Planet Software to manage Tetris and has kept it in the forefront of casual gaming with continuously improved design. In 2002, Henk started Blue Lava Wireless, a mobile phone game developer and publisher that he sold to JAMDAT in 2005. Starting with the efforts of Blue Lava Wireless, Tetris became the #1 game on mobile phones. In 2008, Tetris made up approximately 10 percent of all games sold on mobile phones in North America. Henk presently has three new startup software development companies—Tetris Online, a casual online game company focused on “casual gamers”; Blue Lava Technologies, developer of a photo tagging service that automatically generates digital photo slideshows; and Avatar Reality, which has created a high definition Virtual World on a terraformed Mars.
Blue Planet Foundation:
A heart attack in 2005 gave Henk the opportunity to rethink the rest of his life and reevaluate the purpose of his life’s work. Henk is determined to end the use of carbon-based fuel on the planet, starting with fossil fuel use in Hawaii, his adopted home. To fulfill his mission, Henk established Blue Planet Foundation, which has become the frontline organization in the fight for indigenous renewable energy in Hawaii.