Tetris, Hula Hooping and Coping With Your Awesomeness

 

I’m going to tell you something really important, and I think you might want to sit down.

Are you sitting? Great. Try not to be too intimidated, because it’s really quite the spectacular revelation.

I really don’t want you to treat me any differently when I tell you, either. You’ll probably be tempted to bow down, worshipfully throw rose petals in my wake, etc etc etc.

I urge you not to do these things. Because followed by this announcement will be an equal and opposite announcement that will be just as impressive in its own way, perhaps more for the lesson learned than for the matter/anti-matter reaction that you will no doubt have upon learning both new things I have to tell you.

Are you ready?

Okay.

Deep breath.

I, Colin Wright, am really, really good at Tetris. Like, super-great at it in a way that people stop and watch me play and their jaws drop they’re so in awe of my god-like Tetris-playing abilities.

And now the counter-point. Have you recovered from that first one yet? Okay, I’ll wait.

Good? Alright, here goes:

I, Colin Wright, have gotten so good at Tetris that I am starting to get bad at Tetris, so much so that I don’t let people watch me anymore because it would be, to them, like watching an angel fall from the sky, hearing an orchestra play one golden note before collapsing in a cacophony of metal-on-metal and broken strings, or seeing a baby bunny get punched in the face.

Let me explain.

There comes a point with any skill where the masterfulness of one’s ability starts to overshadow the capacity of the skill to provide new challenges. In this example, regular Tetris could no longer satiate my desire for new challenges, so I began to make up my own games.

I tried handicapping myself, seeing how high I could pile the pieces in random designs, usually getting all the way up to the top, before doing my best to dig back down to the bottom, minor-sacrifice and single-line-point at a time.

Then there’s my ‘Tetris-Only’ version of the game, where I would see how long I could play by only getting 4-line scores (‘Tetrises’). This one lasted for some time, and there are moments when I accidentally set myself up for failure early, but generally once you know what not to do and how to set up the field of play, even this starts to be less of a challenge and more of a waste of time.

You’ve probably reached this point with some skill set as well. You enjoy hula hooping so much that you go on a 14-year hula hoop binge, crashing in your mid-20′s with nothing to fill the void. You can hula those damn hoops like nobody’s business, but it’s just not enough any more.

What do you do next? How do you replace that hula hoop shaped hole in your heart? In your very SOUL?

I personally have yet to find that timeless, vaguely-Soviet, very-special, casually-played puzzle game that will make me feel the way that Tetris did, but maybe that’s okay.

Maybe in life, unlike in Tetris, every gap needn’t be filled.

Maybe it’s time to find a new game that will be judged according to new standards and new rules. Maybe it’s time to let the past be the past and clear the way for the future to establish its own, novel point system.

Are you clearing the way for your future, or are you letting the reasons not to pile up and up and up until…game over?

26 comments

  1. YES.

    An insightful metaphor, indeed, if I’ve ever seen one, Wright. This post speaks to the value of the learning curve, which isn’t always considered as positive. Usually, we tend to think of the learning curve as something to be overcome, but as you’ve pointed out here, it may be more appropriate to regard it as something to embrace. Life is a series of overcoming learning curves, but if we’re doing things right, then there’s never going to be a final destination. That said…I’m sure your next Tetris is right around the corner.

    On a separate but related note, HULA HOOP CONTEST 2010 IS ON!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Thanks for the shout out. :)

  2. YES.

    An insightful metaphor, indeed, if I’ve ever seen one, Wright. This post speaks to the value of the learning curve, which isn’t always considered as positive. Usually, we tend to think of the learning curve as something to be overcome, but as you’ve pointed out here, it may be more appropriate to regard it as something to embrace. Life is a series of overcoming learning curves, but if we’re doing things right, then there’s never going to be a final destination. That said…I’m sure your next Tetris is right around the corner.

    On a separate but related note, HULA HOOP CONTEST 2010 IS ON!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Thanks for the shout out. :)

  3. Ah yes! The learning curve. I have taken on several new challenges that force me to learn and grow. At times I have wanted to give because I hate sucking it up. But somehow I have improved without realizing. And that feeling is nothing less than awesome.

    Recently I even learned how to keep a hula hoop up for an extended period of time. Sweet!

  4. Ah yes! The learning curve. I have taken on several new challenges that force me to learn and grow. At times I have wanted to give because I hate sucking it up. But somehow I have improved without realizing. And that feeling is nothing less than awesome.

    Recently I even learned how to keep a hula hoop up for an extended period of time. Sweet!

  5. “Maybe in life, unlike in Tetris, every gap needn’t be filled.

    Maybe it’s time to find a new game that will be judged according to new standards and new rules. Maybe it’s time to let the past be the past and clear the way for the future to establish its own, novel point system.”

    That’s just well said. This is what I’m going through now. There’s so many giving advice-do this, don’t do that-it’s nice to chill and see what unfolds.

    And guess what, it unfolds.

    BTW, the picture next to the comment I’m posting–Did you bring a table and chair to the beach or is that photoshopped?

  6. “Maybe in life, unlike in Tetris, every gap needn’t be filled.

    Maybe it’s time to find a new game that will be judged according to new standards and new rules. Maybe it’s time to let the past be the past and clear the way for the future to establish its own, novel point system.”

    That’s just well said. This is what I’m going through now. There’s so many giving advice-do this, don’t do that-it’s nice to chill and see what unfolds.

    And guess what, it unfolds.

    BTW, the picture next to the comment I’m posting–Did you bring a table and chair to the beach or is that photoshopped?

  7. For some reason you just described how I feel with strategy games such as Medieval 2: Total War.

    Games aside, your point is really a valid one, maybe that is why I try hard to never consider myself as an expert. It already ruined my Total War game experience. I try hard to think of myself as the eternal apprentice, always learning, always trying new things. At least in my career choice.

    On a really side note… I would love to challenge you in a tetris death match! Errr… I mean, friendly game.

  8. For some reason you just described how I feel with strategy games such as Medieval 2: Total War.

    Games aside, your point is really a valid one, maybe that is why I try hard to never consider myself as an expert. It already ruined my Total War game experience. I try hard to think of myself as the eternal apprentice, always learning, always trying new things. At least in my career choice.

    On a really side note… I would love to challenge you in a tetris death match! Errr… I mean, friendly game.

  9. Ha! love it! I played an old school handheld game of tetris one summer during the annual family roadtrip from Philadelphia to Minneapolis. I played until my score got so high that the game just stopped. It couldn’t compute a score any higher. It was a nice way to end the obsession though. How often do you break a game with a high score?

  10. Ha! love it! I played an old school handheld game of tetris one summer during the annual family roadtrip from Philadelphia to Minneapolis. I played until my score got so high that the game just stopped. It couldn’t compute a score any higher. It was a nice way to end the obsession though. How often do you break a game with a high score?

  11. @Ash: I tend to see the learning curve as more of a parabola than just a slope upward, in most cases. Ideally, though, you can hop off at the topmost point and move on to another graph completely, starting over as a complete beginner. I think that last part is why most people don’t…it’s scary to start over.

    @Vinay: I’ll give it a shot! Played a few times, but never got way into it.

    @teevee: Keep on hooping! Send a video into Ash’s contest!

    @Mike: Thanks, Mike! And yeah, that photo is legit. Have a whole stockpile of photos with me working in strange places (the beach, the hills, the desert, Chinatown, random alleys, etc). I use them in my promotions and such to help keep my personal brand consistent, and to explain what I do without having to say a word.

    @Alejandro: Haha, we’ll have to meet up in person at some point and find an old Tetris arcade machine. That’s the only way to have a death match!

    @Kelsey: Ah, I didn’t realize Tetris had a kill-screen! For me, it’s always just gotten faster and faster until it got so fast that you could barely see the pieces anymore and then one mistake makes you lose. Pretty crazy…though, I imagine it depends on the version (I think Tetris is the only game to have been ported to every game system ever…or at the very least 95% of them).

  12. @Ash: I tend to see the learning curve as more of a parabola than just a slope upward, in most cases. Ideally, though, you can hop off at the topmost point and move on to another graph completely, starting over as a complete beginner. I think that last part is why most people don’t…it’s scary to start over.

    @Vinay: I’ll give it a shot! Played a few times, but never got way into it.

    @teevee: Keep on hooping! Send a video into Ash’s contest!

    @Mike: Thanks, Mike! And yeah, that photo is legit. Have a whole stockpile of photos with me working in strange places (the beach, the hills, the desert, Chinatown, random alleys, etc). I use them in my promotions and such to help keep my personal brand consistent, and to explain what I do without having to say a word.

    @Alejandro: Haha, we’ll have to meet up in person at some point and find an old Tetris arcade machine. That’s the only way to have a death match!

    @Kelsey: Ah, I didn’t realize Tetris had a kill-screen! For me, it’s always just gotten faster and faster until it got so fast that you could barely see the pieces anymore and then one mistake makes you lose. Pretty crazy…though, I imagine it depends on the version (I think Tetris is the only game to have been ported to every game system ever…or at the very least 95% of them).

  13. For me its FreeCell. I carried a 243 game winning streak through college, before I retired because I got so slow andf conservative, so as not to lose the winning streak.

    That’s a game, of course, bowing to the stress was not a big deal (and a time saver). In real life, it’s important never to let that happen, always succeeding but never taking a chance.

  14. For me its FreeCell. I carried a 243 game winning streak through college, before I retired because I got so slow andf conservative, so as not to lose the winning streak.

    That’s a game, of course, bowing to the stress was not a big deal (and a time saver). In real life, it’s important never to let that happen, always succeeding but never taking a chance.

  15. I was the champion tetris player… I used to top the scores listed in Nintendo Power all the time. Hula Hooping… not so much… but I do enjoy watching people hula hoop. And no I’m not a fatty… I can just appreciate that there are some things that attractive women can do better than me and I like to watch them do it. Right Marisa Tomei? http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=P9BEc4xIDjM

  16. I was the champion tetris player… I used to top the scores listed in Nintendo Power all the time. Hula Hooping… not so much… but I do enjoy watching people hula hoop. And no I’m not a fatty… I can just appreciate that there are some things that attractive women can do better than me and I like to watch them do it. Right Marisa Tomei? http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=P9BEc4xIDjM

  17. So is it just me or was I the only one thinking “try hula hooping while playing tetris”? :) Yeah, I know that’s not the point…

  18. I saw an old tetris machine up on ebay once, and if I’m not wrong near the center of Mexico City are a bunch of old arcades (filled with dance games and a lot of oldies) we might get lucky.

    I’ll go during the weekend and check if there is one just for the laughs.

  19. So is it just me or was I the only one thinking “try hula hooping while playing tetris”? :) Yeah, I know that’s not the point…

  20. I saw an old tetris machine up on ebay once, and if I’m not wrong near the center of Mexico City are a bunch of old arcades (filled with dance games and a lot of oldies) we might get lucky.

    I’ll go during the weekend and check if there is one just for the laughs.

  21. I burned out on Tetris and moved on to manic shooters – my favourite is DoDonPachi. Google can point you to a ROM for it. Takes concentration and coordination like no other game I’ve tried.

  22. I burned out on Tetris and moved on to manic shooters – my favourite is DoDonPachi. Google can point you to a ROM for it. Takes concentration and coordination like no other game I’ve tried.

Comments are closed.