A US teenager has beaten classic computer game Tetris, forcing it into a game-ending glitch in a feat previously achieved only by artificial intelligence.
Willis Gibson, 13, a competitive gamer known as “blue scuti”, became the first human to reach the “kill screen” of the Nintendo version of the puzzle game, as fellow players followed his progress online.
“Oh my God!” Willis screams repeatedly towards the end of a more than 40-minute video he uploaded to YouTube this week.
“I can’t feel my fingers,” he adds breathlessly.
The emotion stands in stark contrast to the preceeding 35 minutes of gameplay in which Willis, from Oklahoma, sits mostly motionless while rapidly scrolling his fingers across a controller.
It also underlines this big achievement for a community of enthusiasts who play both online and in-person tournaments.
“It’s never been done by a human before,” Classic Tetris World Championship president Vince Clemente said, according to The New York Times.
“It’s basically something that everyone thought was impossible until a couple of years ago.”
The brainchild of a Soviet software engineer, Tetris is a simple but highly addictive game in which players must rotate and manipulate falling blocks of different shapes to fit together and create solid lines inside a box.
Once a line (or two, three or four) is formed, it vanishes, leaving more space – and time – to shuffle the following blocks.
Blocks fall faster as a player progresses through the levels, all the way up to Level 29, which was for a long time believed to be the end of the game – the point where things move too fast for humans to react.
But a series of innovations over recent years have pushed the envelope, and players have found a way to keep going, beyond the capability of the ancient code that sustains the game.
For some time, competitive players have known there is a point at which the code bugs out and the game stops, but only another computer has been able to reach it.
Until December 21 when Willis was on Level 157 and dropped a piece into place that caused a single line of blocks to vanish, and the game to freeze.
Fellow players were quick to share the excitement, with Classic Tetris World Champion fractal161 – aka Justin Yu – shouting “He did it, he did it!” on his livestream.
Tetris chief executive Maya Rogers joined the celebrations, telling popsci.com it was a fitting achievement ahead of the 40th anniversary of the game in 2024.
“Congratulations to ‘blue scuti’ for achieving this extraordinary accomplishment, a feat that defies all preconceived limits of this legendary game,” a statement said.
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