Cover Osteuropa 5/2007

In Osteuropa 5/2007

Falling Eastern Blocs
Tetris or How the Soviet Union Made Game Boy a Superstar

Ilja Karenovics

Deutsche Fassung


Probably no other computer game can compete with Tetris when it comes to success and fame. Considerably less known is the fact that this puzzle game was invented by a Russian mathematician the same year Mikhail Gorbachev became general secretary of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union. In several ways, the history of this game can be considered symbolic for the perestroika era: With Tetris, Russian pop-culture makes a new start – but so does the global commercial success of Nintendo’s handheld console Game Boy. Behind the scenes of this story, an international business mystery unfolds in which actors and institutions from the collapsing Soviet Union play a leading role.

(Osteuropa 5/2007, pp. 83–94)