game, game. repeat.

My Theory On Tetris

Sun 07 November 2004

I’ve done my share of dabbling in neurobiology literature and within said literature is information about our eyes. We dont perceive the world as a raw stream of color and brightness–we see objects that retain their integrity even as we turn our heads or they move around. Anyone whos written AI visual navigation/targeting systems can attest to what an impressive ability this is.

Our eyes and brain dont do this in one step. Much like a programer uses functions to organize code at different levels of abstraction so too our brain constructs the visual world in layers. First there are points, then lines, then other constructs like right-angles, and parallel lines. There are actually brain cells that detect parallel lines. All these primitives are used to form ever more complicate objects until we can look in a room and quickly identify a chair as a chair rather than a bunch of pixels impacting our retina.

I suspect that we take a certain pleasure in symmetry, parallels, right-angles, and perfect fits because of the way our brain organizes visual primitives. Tetris is a game where you manipulate pieces formed of right angles such that new parallels and perfect fits are created. Movement and tension is transformed into harmony and restover and over. Its the visual equivalent of playing a dominant chord then its tonic. Maybe there is something to Feng Shui after all