American Teenager Becomes First Human to Beat Video Game Tetris

    04 January 2024

    A 13-year-old American boy has become the first person ever to beat the popular video game Tetris.

    The young gamer, Willis Gibson, completed 157 levels of Tetris before the game technically surrendered.

    Gamers call this kind of ending a "kill screen." The Tetris program had no more plays to make and so it crashed, freezing the video game.

    In this image taken from video, 13-year-old Willis Gibson reacts after beating the video game Tetris. (Willis Gibson via AP)
    In this image taken from video, 13-year-old Willis Gibson reacts after beating the video game Tetris. (Willis Gibson via AP)

    Gibson lives in the Midwestern state of Oklahoma and goes by the gaming name "Blue Scuti." He can be heard repeatedly shouting "Oh my God" on a video recording as he beat the game.

    "I can't feel my fingers," Gibson says in the video.

    Gaming experts had long considered Tetris unbeatable. This is partly because the video game does not have a clear ending point.

    Tetris came out in 1984 and quickly became a worldwide favorite. Its creator, Alexey Pajitnov, was a computer programs engineer at the Russian Academy of Sciences in the former Soviet Union.

    During the game, players move and join together seven different shapes of falling blocks. The goal is for players to fit the blocks together to form solid lines inside a box. The blocks fall faster as players progress through higher levels of the game.

    On December 21, Gibson reached level 157 and dropped a final piece into place. This caused a single line of blocks to disappear and the game to enter a permanent freeze.

    "This is unbelievable," Vince Clemente, CEO of Classic Tetris World Championship, told Reuters news agency. "Developers didn't think anyone would ever make it that far and now the game has officially been beaten by a human being." 

    For some time, gamers have known Tetris would eventually reach an ending point and technically shut down. But in the past, only a computer program could force such a game-ending shut-down.

    Other fans of the game were quick to share Gibson's excitement. Classic Tetris World Champion Justin Yu – who goes by the name fractal161 – declared in his own video, "He did it, he did it!"

    Tetris chief executive Maya Rogers joined in the celebration. She said in a statement it was fitting Gibson had beat the game just ahead of 2024, when Tetris was entering its 40th anniversary.

    "Congratulations to 'blue scuti,'" Rogers said. She added that the "extraordinary" event "defied" any previous known limits of the game.

    Gibson uses a "rolling" controller playing method popularized in 2021. It permits players to operate the controls in different ways to be able to keep playing longer to reach higher levels.

    I'm Bryan Lynn.

    The Associated Press, Reuters and Agence France-Presse reported this story. Bryan Lynn adapted the reports for VOA Learning English.


    Words in This Story

    defy – v. to do something considered very difficult or impossible