Can you win at tetris? (1992)

TETRIS is a popular video game in which you try to fill rows in a rectangular well using a sequence of tetrominoes chosen by the machine. Each time you succeed in filling a row, it is deleted from the well. Your game ends when you have stacked pieces up to the top of the well. I build a model of TETRIS and analyze the worst-case scenario, in which the machine is treated as an adversary. I say you have a winning strategy when you can make your game last indefinitely. I construct winning strategies for some subsets of the TETRIS pieces, and prove that none exists for some others. Finally, I compare these analytic results to some empirical average-case data that I obtain from a passive survey of TETRIS players.

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