The real Henk Rogers on Tetris real story vs the movie

“Dr. Tetris” gives a toast to the 40th Anniversary of Alexey Pajitnov’s masterpiece and compares his experience in real life in the 80s vs what was depicted in the movie, where the character portraying him is the protagonist.

Audio transcription

"So, how many of you have seen the movie?
Alright, alright, so I don't have to tell...
I'll answer the questions that everybody asks, you know, like how close was the movie to reality?
And I'm not going to answer them, just kidding."

"I did go to the Soviet Union in 1989 on a tourist visa and walk into a ministry that I really wasn't supposed to walk into.
And I really was thinking that I was surrounded by KGB agents."

"I didn't know whether I was going to be arrested.
I mean, just imagine going to North Korea today and walking into a ministry and trying to talk to somebody.
Not a good idea. Not a good idea."

"And people ask me, you know, oh, you were so brave.
The other way of looking at it was, I was so stupid.
You know, there's two different ways of looking at that.
I was a little bit naive, and Alexei likes to put it this way."

"He said, you know, you thought you might be breaking the law, but I knew I was breaking the law by meeting with you.
So, in my first meeting with Alexei, we're in a room, and I'm totally being interrogated."

"They're asking me all these questions like, what makes you think that you have this right to come here and talk to us?
And all these kind of questions.
And I was just explaining the business to them."

"And in the beginning of the meeting, I could see Alexei sitting across from me.
He's like, who is this businessman coming from somewhere else, trying to get Tetris, blah, blah, blah.
But by the end of that meeting, he had warmed up."

"He figured out that I was a game designer, and we're both game designers.
Game designers, I tell you, I'm wearing a game design shirt, too.
I should talk about this fight.
But the game that I created was the number one game in Japan in 1984."

"It was the first role-playing game in Japan.
It was called Dynamics.
It's also, yeah, it's 40 years old. Exactly. That's what I'm saying.
So thank you very much for that."

"Anyway, Alexei, after that first meeting, he walked around the table and talked to me.
And I thought, how can he do this? How can he even talk to me?
But he said, let's get together this evening. I'll come to your hotel."

"And I thought, wow.
And basically, no Russians were allowed in the hotel unless they were being accompanied.
So I had to go down to the door. It's such a weird thing.
And I had a chance to show him my..."

"I had actually brought a little videotape recorder so I could show him a Nintendo, the Tetris that I made on Nintendo.
I tried to get him to play. And he couldn't play because on the PC, the controls for moving are on the right side, like the number keys, and the hard drop is on the left side."

"And on the Nintendo, it's backwards.
So it's just backwards. So he'd been playing Tetris this way all this time and then he had to play this way. He actually turned the controller upside down and tried to play that way, which was ridiculous."

"But Alexei and I became friends that day and we've been friends ever since. Alexei and I couldn't be more different.
I agree. Oh my god, they're like the Ying to the Yang.
So different."

"Alexei likes classical music. I like rock.
Alexei likes to plan things. I like to adventure.
We actually went on a Europe trip together, the two of us.
And the way we did it is, one day, it's Alexei's day, all planned."

"Where we're going to stay, how we're going to get there.
And the other day, it's my turn. And we just get on a random train and we don't know where we're going to end up, where we're going to stay. It's just an adventure.
And this year, Alexei is coming with me to Burning Man."

"For the second time.
The first time was a disaster because he parked his RV next to the speaker, which wasn't working at the beginning.
But then when it finally turned on, there was just non-stop."

"He was parked next to the speaker so that he couldn't last. He couldn't sleep.
He couldn't do anything. But this time, we're a little bit more sane about it.
We're in a little bit more quiet area.
So we're going to fix his Burning Man experience."

"But anyway, Alexei, even though we're completely different, we're best friends. And we, how can I say, whenever we're in the same jurisdiction, I'd call it, or in the same city, every other day, it's a bottle of wine. And that's a tradition."

"So, I would like to propose a toast to Alexei Pazhinov, who created the game.
Maya alluded to Mr. Tetris. Sometimes people call me Mr. Tetris.
I am not Mr. Tetris. If you want to call me something, call me Dr. Tetris because I kept Tetris alive all these years."

"So, he created the game and my job is to keep it alive.
So, now I've passed that baton over to Maya.
So, for the toast, I would like everyone to say the toast in Russian."

"And, which is it?
Vashe zdorovye or Vashe zdorovye? Which one?
Yeah, Vashe zdorovye. I made everybody in Japan say this when Tolkachov came to Japan. I made everybody in the audience say Vashe zdorovye. Okay, everybody."

"Vashe zdorovye. One more time.
Vashe zdorovye. Okay, here we go. This is the final one.
Vashe zdorovye. Thank you."





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