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.