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Oklahoma teen becomes first human to beat Tetris!

12:48 PM EST on January 3, 2024

Here’s a feel-good story to start the New Year!

According to a front page of the website story in the New York Times, Willis Gibson – a 13-year-old kid from Stillwater – became the first documented person in world history to beat Tetris. 

Yep, that’s right! Stack up the blocks and wait for the long one! The world’s greatest Tetris champion is a teenager from Oklahoma. 

Via The New York Times:

On Dec. 21, Willis Gibson, 13, put his hands to his head and rocked back and forth in an office chair in his bedroom in Stillwater, Okla., unable to believe what he had just accomplished.

His screen had frozen, and his Tetris score read “999999.”

“Oh my god,” Willis repeats in a high pitch, in video of his triumph that he uploaded to YouTube on Tuesday, as he collapses into his chair. “I can’t feel my fingers.”

Willis had just become the first person to advance so far in the original Nintendo version of the puzzle game Tetris that the game froze, achieving a feat previously credited only to artificial intelligence.

That’s awesome! In case you’re bored and want to play along with your eyes at home, here’s a video of his achievement:

That’s incredible. The most impressive part of this feat isn’t that he beat the game, but that he did it without the Tetris music ever accelerating up to warp speed! That sound still gives me panic attacks and nightmares today.

I’m not much of a gamer anymore. The last system I owned was a PS2, but I’ll take on all challengers – minus Willis – when it comes to Tetris.

Back in the late 1980s, my cousin and I would stay up into the wee hours of the night playing Tetris on the old NES and our Game Boys. In fact, we played so much that when I’d close my eyes to try to sleep I’d still see the various shaped blocks falling into place. I called it Tetris Vision. 

I was good enough at Tetris that I beat all the various levels – I could make quick work of Level 9, Height 5 – and got to see all the end-game rocket ceremonies at the Kremlin or whatever, but I had no clue freezing up the game was even a thing! I also didn’t know international Tetris competitions existed. If I wasn’t a grown-up with a life whose hands tighten up after 10 minutes of playing speed Chess on my phone, I’d break out the Nintendo and come out of retirement.

Anyway, on behalf of all Oklahomans, we’d like to give it up Willis for beating the game and making Tetris nerds of all ages proud. I have no clue what his future holds – he’d be a hell of a cashier at Trader Joe's – or what gaming challenge awaits him next – Does Dr. Mario freeze up if you reach a certain level? – but we’d like to give him the TLO Medal of Junior Achievement and wish him the best of luck getting out of Oklahoma someday. 

Stay with The Lost Ogle. We’ll keep you advised.

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