The Real-Life Buddies Behind ‘Tetris’: From Breaking Laws in the USSR to Happy Hour at SXSW

Apr 4, 2023

Henk Rogers and Alexey Pajitnov met in Moscow in 1988, skirted laws—and their own safety—to bring “Tetris” to the masses, and now are friends delighted with the game’s new movie.

The heart of the new movie Tetris, a retelling of how the massively popular video game came to be, lies with its two “heroes”: Henk Rogers (played by Taron Egerton) and Alexey Pajitnov (Nikita Efremov). Rogers is the American businessman who unraveled the mystery that was Tetris’ licensing rights, ultimately scoring a killer deal with Nintendo to launch the Game Boy with Pajitnov’s puzzle game alongside it. Pajitnov, a humble engineer in the Soviet Union, was just happy that people found so much joy in his block-stacking, line-clearing time-hogger.