Stephen Lindberg

Product Designer @ Iterable

25 October 2019

Why is Tetris such a good analogy?

What do the activities packing your car, designing software, and managing your social calendar all have in common? Tetris! The game Tetris is a great analogy for many things, and I found myself asking why I was so frequently relating to it. Why is Tetris such a great analogy?

Time is always moving forward.

Just like in real life, time is a factor. The pieces keep coming regardless of what you do with them. This teaches me to not procrastinate too much. If you know the game state, you’ll have a much better idea of what to do with a block. This lesson is about being aware of your surroundings so you can make timely judgments and act on them – don’t worry too much about what-ifs.

You must accept the things you cannot change.

The decisions you’ve made in the past cannot be changed, and you are limited to a single block, which you have to place – no trades or do-overs! I think it’s important to take stock of the things in your life that you cannot change (or, at least, the things which would require superhuman effort to change). This encourages me to take baby steps – place one block at a time and keep moving forward.

I think this lesson also teaches me to be thinking about sub-optimal outcomes. Some blocks are going to leave weird gaps, and at that point it becomes a game of minimizing damages.

It rewards organization and planning.

Clearing four rows of blocks at the same time is seriously satisfying. It’s almost as good as the dopamine rush I get from waking up to a clean kitchen. Life doesn’t magically become easier when you’re organized, but organization allows you more flexibility to take opportunities when they present themselves. Give yourself the best possible chance to succeed. And of course, if you pack your car well, you can take more people on your adventure. The more, the merrier!