EXCERPT: Life-sized Arena Tetris! by David Malki !

David Malki! is the author of the comic strip Wondermark, which in 2009 was nominated for the “Best Humor Publication” Eisner Award. He is also co-editor of the bestselling Machine of Death series of fiction anthologies, and creator of Machine of Death: The Game of Creative Assassination. His short fiction has appeared in Pseudopod and he also holds the distinction of having written the longest article ever published by Poets & Writers magazine.

Life-sized ARENA TETRIS!

Funding Canceled. This project has been canceled by the creator.


pledged of $858,510 goal

Bring the world’s best puzzle game to a real-life gym near you!!


If you don’t like Tetris, this isn’t the campaign for you! Maybe you think it’s just a dumb video game from forever ago. If you ever played, you weren’t very good. You can’t IMAGINE playing for hours—days—trying to summon bigger and bigger rockets—until your dreams were filled with falling blocks. Maybe you don’t even know what I mean about the rockets! If so, LOG OFF. Thanks for visiting. There’s probably other stuff on this site for you.

But . . . maybe you DO love Tetris. You DID spend untold days & weeks playing on the NES, and Game Boy, and even the weird PC version where you had to know the flags of all the Soviet socialist republics in order to bypass the copy protection. When you hear the music now, even in passing from a car stereo or whatever, you’re instantly transported back to your best friend’s grandma’s basement, where the two of you found a whole flat of Diet Cokes and saw no reason why you SHOULDN’T try to drink all 24 cans in a day!

Because you were thirteen! Or fourteen! Maybe both! Maybe it was your BIRTHDAY WEEKEND. If that IS your relationship to Tetris, then please READ ON.

The Project

For over a decade I’ve been working on a way to bring the game of Tetris to real life. I trust no one else has put in this level of research into the viability of real-life Tetris, otherwise there would be TEAMS and LEAGUES and ELABORATE TELEVISED MATCHES all over the place by now! We’d be hearing about real-life Tetris the way we hear about kickball or disc golf today. (Side note: one of our tiers is for the right to rename our version of Tetris something generic like “disc golf” [as opposed to “Frisbee® Wimbleton™” or whatever] so as to sidestep any trademark concerns. What moniker will the future’s hottest sport bear into said future? The $6,000 backer will let us all know!)

I want to create a nationwide tour of Arena Tetris games. Much like professional wrestling, it will be a continuous season of play that travels from city to city over the course of a season. The exact cities chosen will depend on where the backers for this project are located—in our inaugural season, we’ll travel to at least the top 8 cities!

How The Game Is Played

ARENA TETRIS is a team sport, requiring four players and an impartial official—a sort of combination crane operator, overseeing god, and Lakitu from Super Mario.

The playing area, or “well,” is the space between two vertical pieces of scaffolding standing 20 feet tall and precisely 84 inches apart. The top of the well is met by a conveyor belt, where the official, at ground level, continuously chooses, and places on the conveyor, “tetrominoes”—cubical blocks linked in configurations of 4 by the use of ball joints and magnets, which allow the individual blocks to be linked and separated with little or no mechanical resistance. Developing the most effective configuration of the magnets was a considerable challenge, and their specifics are currently protected by patent (or will be, once this campaign fully funds).

The players’ goal is to catch tetrominoes coming off the conveyor, and set them in close-fitting interlocking fashion to create a wall spanning the two uprights. The team members attempting to accomplish this are:

The PLACER—who stands on the wall being built, catching the tetrominoes as they fall and fitting them into position.

The SPINNER—who sits on a platform halfway up the side of the well, and uses long paddles to nudge the falling tetrominoes into ideal position for the placer to catch.

The SPOTTER—who stands where he or she can see both the entire wall taking shape and the tetrominoes coming up on the conveyor belt, and shouts directions to the placer and the spinner. (The spotter also belays a safety rope linked to the placer.)

Finally, the HAMMER—the element that makes this game Tetris and not just competitive masonry. The hammer is a powerful member of the team who stands at one side of the well with a series of hammers of different sizes. Whenever the placer has constructed an entire row of unbroken blocks, the hammer strikes the row (or rows, with one of the larger hammers) from the side, driving the entire row of individual blocks out the other side of the well, where they clatter into a huge net! This is the most important part of the game, and, I imagine, the moment when the crowd will go NUTS.



Read the rest in HELP FUND MY ROBOT ARMY!!! and Other Improbable Crowdfunding Projects!