Tetris Joins Minecraft And DOOM In Running A Computer

There is a select group of computer games whose in-game logic is enough for them to simulate computers in themselves. We’ve seen it in Minecraft and DOOM, and now there’s a new player in town from a surprising quarter: Tetris.

One might wonder how the Russian falling-blocks game could do this, as unlike the previous examples it has a very small playing field. And indeed it’s not quite the Tetris you’re used to playing, but a version played over an infinite board. Then viewed as a continuous progression of the game it can be viewed as somewhat similar to the tape in a Turing machine.

The various moves and outcomes are referred to through a Tetris scripting language, so states can be represented by different sets of blocks and holes while logic elements can be be built up using the various shapes and the game logic. From those a computer can be built, represented entirely in Tetris moves and shapes. It’s a little mind-bending and we’d be lying if we said we understood every nuance of it, but seemingly it works well enough to run the game from within itself.. If it had the catchy music from the NES version, we’d declare it perfect.

Hungry for more? Here’s DOOM doing some adding, and of course Minecraft has a rich computing history.

6 thoughts on “Tetris Joins Minecraft And DOOM In Running A Computer

  1. Might miss understand this but it seems like the interpretation of the results is done outside the game and then fed back into it? If so that feels a bit cheaty. What I liked about the others was the in game logic directly understood the results it was processing.

      1. A better criticism is that it isn’t actually Tetris. As far as I can tell (see the Infinite Playfield section) it’s impossible to clear a line, which makes it not Tetris.

        It’s a geometrical computer using Tetris shapes, which is cool. But not really Tetris.

        1. There are plenty of infinite versions of familiar games. For example, look up Infinite Chess. They make compromises to accommodate infinite space, but the spirit of the games remain.

    1. I bought one! It was about 12” when it arrived. They said their measurements are approximate, and it seems like maybe they used forced perspective in their photos of the board against the known universe.

      All in all, about as correctly speced as every battery and LED I’ve had from them.

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