Tetris, one of the most popular and recognizable games of all time, has finally been “beaten.” The person to do it more than 30 years after the game’s release? 13-year-old Willis Gibson from Oklahoma.
Gibson uploaded a video of his achievement to YouTube, and it’s quite a sight to behold. He is demonstrably overwhelmed with excitement and astonishment. He exclaims, “Oh my god,” before saying, “I can’t feel my fingers.”
As you can see in the video, Willis reaches level 157 (the video labels it as level 18, though). At this point, the game freezes. Willis reached the “kill screen,” which is the point at which Tetris is no longer playable because it was not designed to reach that level. Technically speaking, Tetris is unbeatable because it could theoretically go on forever. But Willis is believed to have just set a world record.
Tetris expert Vince Clemente told The New York Times that no human has ever gotten this far in Tetris before. Clemente said Willis did what was thought to be impossible. People have used AI to test the limits of Tetris and have gone further, but Willis stands alone in his achievement as a human in the game of Tetris.
His mother bought him a RetroN console and a CRT TV, and Willis plays about 20 hours of Tetris per week.
Willis is also a professional Tetris competitor and is one of the United States’ most accomplished players. He placed third at the Classic Tetris World Championship in October 2023, and he’s gearing up for another event in Waco, Texas later this month. Willis has earned around $3,000 from competing in Tetris tournaments so far.
Tetris was created by Alexey Pajitnov in 1985. Henk Rogers worked with Pajitnov to help promote and popularize the game with a wider audience, and they succeeded enormously. Tetris is the best-selling video game of all time and has been ported to pretty much every platform under the sun.
A feature film called Tetris was released in 2023 starring Taron Egerton as Rogers and Nikita Yefremov as Pajitnov.