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Tetris Improves Your Brain

CmdrTaco posted more than 5 years ago | from the sing-the-music-honey dept.

Nintendo 145

An anonymous reader writes "Playing Tetris increases the density of the cortex and improves the efficiency of some parts of the brain, according to researchers investigating video games and other complex spatial tasks." Unfortunately, storing a half million copies of the song negates any practical functional gains beyond loading your trunk very efficiently.

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Elektronorgtechnica Bias -- Any Video Game Really (5, Interesting)

eldavojohn (898314) | more than 5 years ago | (#29273191)

Playing Tetris actually gives you more brain to work with, says a new study to be published later this week.

So you're saying you had control groups of people that played other video games and Tetris showed a difference? Or a control group studying chess? I suspect the title of this article should be "Puzzles Improve Your Brain."

This, says the doctors who undertook the study, shows that focusing on a "challenging visuospatial task" like a videogame can actually alter the structure of the brain, not just increase brain activity.

So you're saying this is akin to jamming the square block in the square hole and the triangle block in the triangle hole? Or, really, any sort of two dimensional puzzles like the mazes on the back of tray mats at a restaurant? Or maybe even -- *gasp* -- any game portrayed on a 2D surface like a TV or computer screen?

The study, funded by Tetris' makers ...

I understand now.

The study's subjects, a group of adolescent girls, underwent MRI scans before and after a three-month Tetris practice period.

The pretty pictures wouldn't happen to be statistically erroneous [slashdot.org] now would they?

Don't get me wrong, I grew up on Tetris 2 and The New Tetris. They both still have massive replay value and really spurred me to look into polyomino [amazon.com] based puzzles [amazon.com] which had increased fame in the mid 1960s until everyone realized that they had little real world application (but they still show up in papers [acm.org] ). Still, it lead me to a book by Martin Gardner [wikipedia.org] who wrote Scientific American columns on Mathematical Games. If you remember those, I recommend this book [amazon.com] . So something good came out of studying tile theory and Tetris for me but there's no evidence yet it did anything more for me than say playing Gauntlet on the NES would have.

Re:Elektronorgtechnica Bias -- Any Video Game Real (4, Funny)

ta bu shi da yu (687699) | more than 5 years ago | (#29273231)

Indeed. This Science Experiment brought to you by Nintendo.

Re:Elektronorgtechnica Bias -- Any Video Game Real (1)

Jurily (900488) | more than 5 years ago | (#29273477)

This Science Experiment brought to you by Nintendo.

Super Mario Rocket Science!

Re:Elektronorgtechnica Bias -- Any Video Game Real (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#29273339)

Too many links; did not click.

T-spin triple (4, Interesting)

tepples (727027) | more than 5 years ago | (#29273353)

So you're saying this is akin to jamming the square block in the square hole and the triangle block in the triangle hole?

No, it's shoving the T-shaped block past other blocks into a T-shaped hole. Almost every Tetris game since Tetris Worlds (2001), including Tetris DS, has allowed for this strange move [ytmnd.com] .

Re:Elektronorgtechnica Bias -- Any Video Game Real (1, Insightful)

cetialphav (246516) | more than 5 years ago | (#29273581)

So you're saying you had control groups of people that played other video games and Tetris showed a difference? Or a control group studying chess? I suspect the title of this article should be "Puzzles Improve Your Brain."

There was no control group in this experiment. They did a before and after with a group of people.

I don't understand why you think the title should be generalized to Puzzles instead of Tetris. The experiment only looked at the impact of Tetris on the brain and not puzzles in general. It is natural to hypothesize that other types of games will have a similar impact, but until that is tested and confirmed across a spectrum of puzzles, you can't safely generalize that.

No one is claiming that playing Tetris makes you smarter than playing other games because no one has tested that, yet.

Re:Elektronorgtechnica Bias -- Any Video Game Real (1)

eldavojohn (898314) | more than 5 years ago | (#29273713)

There was no control group in this experiment. They did a before and after with a group of people.

Well, if this is true ... and I can't find the paper yet so I don't know. Then you're going to have the hilarious possibility that they were merely observing natural growth of the cortex over time. I hope they understand that with no control group they are setting themselves up for scientific disaster.

I mean, how are they going to eliminate alternative explanations [wikipedia.org] ? This is standard scientific procedure--I'd be shocked to hear this being published without adhering to something I learned about in fourth grade.

Re:Elektronorgtechnica Bias -- Any Video Game Real (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#29274029)

Yea, in fourth grade we learned about the need for alternative explanation elimination too. You evidently stopped there, coz in fifth grade we all learned that it's impossible to ever fully rule out alternative explanations.

Re:Elektronorgtechnica Bias -- Any Video Game Real (1)

commodore64_love (1445365) | more than 5 years ago | (#29274229)

There have been similar studies with mice. They drop a mouse in a tub of water, the mouse swims around and then it finds the "island" so it doesn't drown. After a couple times of this the mouse immediately goes to the island.

Enter Mr. Surgeon to remove part of the mouse's brain. Now the mouse swims in circles until it drowns (or the researcher rescues it). Put the brain-damaged mouse in the mouse-equivalent of Disneyland - lots of wheels and slides and blocks and other stimulative things for about a month. Now drop the mouse in the water, and he swims right to the island. The stimulation caused the brain's cells to grow new connections and restore the memory that had been "lost"

It appears playing games for humans is equivalent to Mousy Disneyland - it stimulates the brain's cells to grow new connections.

Re:Elektronorgtechnica Bias -- Any Video Game Real (1)

mea37 (1201159) | more than 5 years ago | (#29274323)

...which interesting as it may be, fails to address the issue.

Yes, there can be any number of reasons to hypothesize that Tetris is linked to brain growth. Various similar-but-different experiments using different stimuli and a different species of animal can make it appear that this might well be the case.

And then, to find out, you run a controlled experiment. No control group = no valid conclusion.

Re:Elektronorgtechnica Bias -- Any Video Game Real (2, Insightful)

Bob-taro (996889) | more than 5 years ago | (#29275385)

Then you're going to have the hilarious possibility that they were merely observing natural growth of the cortex over time.

And, as has been observed, the test subjects were a group of "adolescent girls", so that is quite likely what happened. But forget about all that. The important thing to remember is that Tetris does cause brain growth. Studies have shown it. All you Tetris-brain-growth-deniers may now be labeled as extremists with an agenda who stupidly ignore the findings of the scientific community. How can you be so so stupid? You need to play more Tetris.

Re:Elektronorgtechnica Bias -- Any Video Game Real (1)

nitroamos (261075) | more than 5 years ago | (#29274171)

It is natural to hypothesize that other types of games will have a similar impact, but until that is tested and confirmed across a spectrum of puzzles, you can't safely generalize that.

No, I'd hypothesize pretty much the same as what the article stated, that there's something more or less special about Tetris... It's a puzzle, so it has a thinking component, but it's also real time so you're rewarded for solving that puzzle over and over as fast as possible. I know my mind works in two modes: one when I'm solving problems alone, another when I'm in a testing situation (e.g. school, interviews, etc), so there is a difference when you're trying to do things as quickly as possible.

Re:Elektronorgtechnica Bias -- Any Video Game Real (2, Insightful)

MobyDisk (75490) | more than 5 years ago | (#29273647)

Playing Tetris actually gives you more brain to work with, says a new study to be published later this week.

So you're saying you had control groups of people that played other video games and Tetris showed a difference? Or a control group studying chess? I suspect the title of this article should be "Puzzles Improve Your Brain."

You have that backwards. The article is correct. Since they only tested Tetris, the only claim they can make is about Tetris.

Re:Elektronorgtechnica Bias -- Any Video Game Real (1, Flamebait)

somersault (912633) | more than 5 years ago | (#29275239)

They can't really make any claims about anything unless they have a good control group. It's like saying that my brain is growing better because I like peanut butter. Or perhaps because I enjoy walking. Or because I like to crack my knuckles. There are millions of variables. They could at the very least try to isolate one of them before claiming any causation.

Re:Elektronorgtechnica Bias -- Any Video Game Real (2, Funny)

alexj33 (968322) | more than 5 years ago | (#29273765)

Apparently the key phrase here is "some parts of the brain."

Those parts didn't include the ones that were supposed to keep my roommate from failing out of college while he was playing Tetris.

Re:Elektronorgtechnica Bias -- Any Video Game Real (1)

mindbrane (1548037) | more than 5 years ago | (#29273959)

Your local library probably has the Scientific American publication, "Martin Gardner's Mathematical Games: The Entire Collection of His Scientific American Columns". The version I borrowed runs pdf files with adobe reader 6 on the disk.

Re:Elektronorgtechnica Bias -- Any Video Game Real (1)

BoogieChile (517082) | more than 5 years ago | (#29274467)


I could imagine that it would also depend on the type of game or puzzle played.

As you say, Tetris is good for tile theory (Funnily enough, I have skills at packing freight or for my holidays that are simply...uncanny), but I don't know that a steady diet of Gauntlet would have been much help there.

Yes, I played a lot of Tetris, why do you ask?

Re:Elektronorgtechnica Bias -- Any Video Game Real (3, Informative)

Ardeaem (625311) | more than 5 years ago | (#29275091)

The pretty pictures wouldn't happen to be statistically erroneous [slashdot.org] now would they?

You do realize that not all fMRI research uses the methodology in the paper referred to by the slashdot article you linked to, right? Not even most of it, actually. The article you referred to only discusses the case where the regions of interest for correlations between behavioral and fMRI measures are selected by the size of the correlation itself. Much of that bad stuff happens in the field of social neuroscience. Although I haven't read the paper in question because it evidently won't be out until Thursday, there's no reason to believe based on the blurb that they had any reason to use that (horribly flawed) methodology.

In Soviet Russia, Tetris eat your shorts !! (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#29273193)

Eat my shorts slashdot !!

Re:In Soviet Russia, Tetris eat your shorts !! (2, Funny)

clone53421 (1310749) | more than 5 years ago | (#29273393)

Who knows, if you'd pointed out that Tetris was actually created in Russia you might have been moderated informative instead of offtopic...

srsly?! (4, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#29273207)

You mean if i keep playing a game i will get better at it?! This is madness...

Re:srsly?! (5, Funny)

MickyTheIdiot (1032226) | more than 5 years ago | (#29273385)

Madness? This is SLASHDOT.

Re:srsly?! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#29273563)

What does playing wii fit improve then?

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_iYBmAVuBns [youtube.com]

Re:srsly?! (1)

eric31415927 (861917) | more than 5 years ago | (#29274091)

Seriously now, the study has some merit.
Other than getting better at the game, these youngsters were performing difficult repetitive tasks akin to musicians learning to play instruments. The key is in the age of the learning. If a child is young enough, his or her brain increases in size and density. Check out:
http://www.jneurosci.org/cgi/content/full/23/27/9240 [jneurosci.org]

Blockout! (4, Insightful)

RenHoek (101570) | more than 5 years ago | (#29273225)

Anybody remember Blockout [wikipedia.org] ? That was a lot more challenging with it being in 3D. :) Aww the days of yore..

Re:Blockout! (3, Funny)

doti (966971) | more than 5 years ago | (#29273587)

Oh man!
I played that for hours and hours a day.

Really improved my skills to fit a LOT of luggage in the car.

Video Games Improves Your Brain (fixed) (3, Interesting)

WeirdingWay (1555849) | more than 5 years ago | (#29273227)

Playing video games in general does this. All genres involve some form of problem solving...something television doesn't usually accommodate.

Re:Video Games Improves Your Brain (fixed) (0, Redundant)

BlueKitties (1541613) | more than 5 years ago | (#29273335)

Actually, I think after long sessions of TF2 I actually regress intellectually. Sure, you need to remember to use your class properly, but after a while your mind reverts into a lizard like state as you repetitively hammer your already 100% stations/guns.

Re:Video Games Improves Your Brain (fixed) (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#29273495)

Gentlemen...

Re:Video Games Improves Your Brain (fixed) (1)

Archon-X (264195) | more than 5 years ago | (#29273535)

Good to know I'm not the only one.

Actually, Tetris is the exception.. (2, Interesting)

wanax (46819) | more than 5 years ago | (#29275707)

There's been quite a bit of previous research done on Tetris, which has found that just about the only thing playing tetris improves is your ability to play tetris. The spatial expertise acquired while playing tetris is highly domain specific (eg. see VK Sims, RE Mayer (2002) [wiley.com] ). In fact Tetris has so few measurable changes on behavior that it's often used as the control game for action video game research (eg. Green CS, Bavelier D. (2003) [nature.com] ).

Oh boy! (2, Insightful)

RealRav (607677) | more than 5 years ago | (#29273237)

As interesting as this is I dread the assumptions that some will make of this. If Tetris can alter the brain then many will argue that violent video games also alter the brain, spurring their side of the debate. I would think that playing FPS games would alter the brain in a way that would make someone better at tasks that require quick reaction to visual stimuli.

Re:Oh boy! (1)

TheKidWho (705796) | more than 5 years ago | (#29273539)

I would wager that the decrease in violent crime that have occurred this century are related to the rise of violent life like video games.

Re:Oh boy! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#29273801)

Just playing the devil's advocate here, but who's to say that violent crime wouldn't have gone down even more if there were no violent video games. We don't have a control group version of society to determine that.

Re:Oh boy! (1)

FCAdcock (531678) | more than 5 years ago | (#29274317)

. . . they don't have violent video games in somolia. . .

Control group: Pirates
Test Group: Nerds who read /. and play Halo

Re:Oh boy! (1)

InsertCleverUsername (950130) | more than 5 years ago | (#29275395)

I would wager that the decrease in violent crime that have occurred this century are related to the rise of violent life like video games.

Sounds logical. If I'm sitting on my arse, playing video games, I'm not out looking for trouble. And unfortunately, probably getting more sedentary and less able to commit acts of physical violence as well.

They do.. (3, Informative)

wanax (46819) | more than 5 years ago | (#29274911)

Playing lots of FPS or "action video games" do have significant, measurable effects on cognition including speeding reaction time, decreasing attentional blink, improving multi-element tracking, improving spatial resolution for both vision and attention, etc etc.. A lot of interesting research on the subject is being done at the Bavelier Lab [rochester.edu] . Review papers can be found here [rochester.edu] and here [rochester.edu] [PDF warning].

The Song (4, Funny)

flynt (248848) | more than 5 years ago | (#29273239)

Da Da-Da-Da Da Da Da, Da Da, Da Da, Da Da Da, Dah-Dah-Dah,
Duh,Duh,Duh, Da-Da-Da, Dah Dah, Dum Doo, Dee Dee, Dah Do De Doo.
Dahhh Dahh, Dahhhh Dahhh, Dahhh Dahhh, Dahhhhhh
Dahhh Dahh, Dooooo Dahhhh, Dum Do Deeee Dahhhhhhh,
Repeat!

Re:The Song (1)

drinkypoo (153816) | more than 5 years ago | (#29273263)

Unfortunately, storing a half million copies of the song negates any practical functional gains beyond loading your trunk very efficiently.

Above sentence (not yours but this is a good place to link) is stupid. Why? Because every time you hear the song it doesn't generate a new recording in your mind. It updates the old one. Sometimes you get a few spare copies, but often some apparently random experience will actually merge the copies, improving both retention and quality of the copy. So like you said, Repeat!

Re:The Song (3, Funny)

Hognoxious (631665) | more than 5 years ago | (#29273457)

My brain has version control, you insensitive clod!!!!

Re:The Song (1)

brkello (642429) | more than 5 years ago | (#29274675)

It was a joke. De-clench.

Re:The Song (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#29273325)

Tetris has music?

It's called Korobeiniki (4, Interesting)

tepples (727027) | more than 5 years ago | (#29273373)

Tetris has music?

Quick, before it gets flagged [youtube.com] .

Re:It's called Korobeiniki (1)

denis-The-menace (471988) | more than 5 years ago | (#29273483)

Damn, I just got rid of my last mod point!

The video brings up good info about why we don't have other Tetris-like games.

Re:The Song (1)

MickyTheIdiot (1032226) | more than 5 years ago | (#29273413)

Stop playing it emacs...

Re:The Song (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#29273501)

Soon as I saw the title and clicked on the article I was trying to remember how the song went... then I saw your post and it all came back to me! GREAT! Thank you SO much.. now I can't get.. it out.. of my head!

Tetris and Super Mario Brothers music (1)

DiscountBorg(TM) (1262102) | more than 5 years ago | (#29273551)

Funny how probably just about anyone who grew up in the 80's could hum out the theme songs to these two bleepy and catchy-as-hell soundtracks.

What if tetris had lyrics (1)

godrik (1287354) | more than 5 years ago | (#29273673)

Song already has lyrics (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#29274719)

The song is a variation of a Russian folk song, Korobushka [youtube.com] .

Re:The Song (1)

nganju (821034) | more than 5 years ago | (#29273711)

I give you two hours before the RIAA makes Slashdot take down this blatantly illegal copy of the song. You're letting everyone enjoy it for free!

Re:The Song (1)

antdude (79039) | more than 5 years ago | (#29274441)

Da Da-Da-Da Da Da Da, Da Da, Da Da, Da Da Da, Dah-Dah-Dah,
Duh,Duh,Duh, Da-Da-Da, Dah Dah, Dum Doo, Dee Dee, Dah Do De Doo.
Dahhh Dahh, Dahhhh Dahhh, Dahhh Dahhh, Dahhhhhh
Dahhh Dahh, Dooooo Dahhhh, Dum Do Deeee Dahhhhhhh,

Plus, it gives you an incredible advantage (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#29273243)

...in masonry.

Re:Plus, it gives you an incredible advantage (1)

pjt33 (739471) | more than 5 years ago | (#29274829)

How does it compare to my level 7 handshake?

I is real clever!!! (2, Informative)

jambox (1015589) | more than 5 years ago | (#29273261)

Me plays tetris like all the time for real. Love playing tetris soooo much! really, really smart me am.

Re:I is real clever!!! (1)

junglee_iitk (651040) | more than 5 years ago | (#29274165)

Me plays tetris like all the time for real. Love playing tetris soooo much! really, really smart me am.

Tetris is clearly not working, because you think that sentence is witty :P

Re:I is real clever!!! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#29274801)

What am wrong with that? Bizarro am think good!

Playing games (1)

Wowsers (1151731) | more than 5 years ago | (#29273365)

I don't know about you, but I don't want to play a game if it makes my brain more dense. Please, I want to remain smart, that's why I hang out here!

Re:Playing games (1)

nedlohs (1335013) | more than 5 years ago | (#29273487)

Please, I want to remain smart, that's why I hang out here!

I think I see the problem.

Re:Playing games (1)

twoshortplanks (124523) | more than 5 years ago | (#29273497)

Being "dense" traditionally refers to the bone in your skull being thicker, which precludes the brain taking up that space, resulting in you having a smaller brain and therefore, so the theory goes, less intelligence.

Re:Playing games (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#29273571)

Wrong.

Re:Playing games (1)

goose-incarnated (1145029) | more than 5 years ago | (#29274095)

I thought it traditionally meant that things had a difficult time getting into your head

Re:Playing games (1)

TheKidWho (705796) | more than 5 years ago | (#29274227)

This is what it means traditionally, the GP was thinking too hard when he heard the expression.

Practical functional gains (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#29273415)

It may be the only functional gain, but boy do I load my trunk efficiently ...

So what (1)

Icegryphon (715550) | more than 5 years ago | (#29273449)

Does Pacman help me improve my eating skills?

Re:So what (1)

sbeckstead (555647) | more than 5 years ago | (#29275011)

No but using silverware might help.

Re:So what (1)

Icegryphon (715550) | more than 5 years ago | (#29275085)

oh nom nom nom!

Re:So what (1)

chill (34294) | more than 5 years ago | (#29275233)

You know...this could help explain the obesity levels of American's. It is Pac Man's fault! Quick! Where's my lawyer!

Re:So what (1)

Kyont (145761) | more than 5 years ago | (#29275495)

No, it improves your Raving skills ("...running around in dark rooms, eating magic pills, and listening to repetitive electronic music.")

Only teenage girls were used in this study (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#29273473)

Should the results be extrapolated to boys? They would statistically have logged far more videogame hours than the girls. Would any result be visible? Would it matter/

Re:Only teenage girls were used in this study (1)

clone53421 (1310749) | more than 5 years ago | (#29273701)

Hmm, it's likely that the effect would be less noticeable if they were heavy video gamers prior to this study. Non-gamers were probably targeted to avoid this, and girls were an obvious choice.

It also raises a few more interesting questions... boys and girls tend to excel in different areas (math vs. language, for instance). Could these different strengths and weaknesses be a result of video game use, or could they be in part a cause of boys' higher inclination to play video games? Of course, it could also be completely unrelated (cue "correlation is not causation").

Obviously another study is required. Where do I sign up?!

The OS kernel that links brain and mind (2, Interesting)

ericcantona (858624) | more than 5 years ago | (#29273507)

Changes in synaptic connectivity are one way that learning occurs [wikipedia.org] . It is interesting to see that even minor stimulation (in playing a game like tetris) can lead to observable changes, i.e., the hardware of the mind (aka the brain) can be re-modelled by the software being run (the 'program' or specific task being undertaken). One of the next questions is to begin to understand the rules governing how learning is represented. This will allow us to begin debugging the OS kernel that links brain and mind.

Re:The OS kernel that links brain and mind (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#29273921)

Given the ubiquity of vivid "tetris dreams" after extended play, I'm not sure I would consider tetris to be "minor stimulation". The brain seems to take it seriously.

Tetris Helps... (4, Funny)

kylben (1008989) | more than 5 years ago | (#29273527)

... me pack the car for vacation.

Re:Tetris Helps... (1)

Scared Rabbit (1526125) | more than 5 years ago | (#29275457)

Actually every time I pack for vacation I tell my wife it's time for me to go play tetris heh.

Plasticity Makes Perfect (3, Funny)

sonnejw0 (1114901) | more than 5 years ago | (#29273529)

This is simply how the brain works. You perform a task repeatedly and the neurons that are firing become more efficient and form a stronger connection, project more axons and dendrites, and generally do what they're supposed to.

Basically they did an MRI scan of girls before the study, then scanned them again after they had played Tetris for three months and their brain showed increased density rostral to the central sulcus, which is the region responsible for complex movements of the fingers and hands (based on the rough rendering at the top of TFA). ... Great. More money being spend on useless research. We all already know the brain adapts and improves itself. How about a study on drugs to increase that improvement, say while I'm study for my Neuroanatomy gross lab.

Where do I go to get funding to do stupid stuff like this? I have an MR machine, I have 3-months to kick back and travel the world giving 10 minute seminars while my research subjects regulate themselves. Please, someone tell me what I must do.

Re:Plasticity Makes Perfect (2, Funny)

MrMista_B (891430) | more than 5 years ago | (#29274141)

Well, in order to get instant success like that, there's only one thing to do:

Stop being ethical.

Cool. (1)

jason777 (557591) | more than 5 years ago | (#29273531)

This is great. I usually play Tetris as I listen to streaming radio from the Internet. I can't just sit and listen. I have to occupy my mind and fingers with something to be able to focus. If I gain brain capacity in the process, all the better! By the way, I can score 250 lines in type A, and I can beat type B on level 9 high 5 with no window on the first try!

Please Send Article to August 1999 (1)

moredots (1613051) | more than 5 years ago | (#29273537)

Where was this article when I was playing Tetris in the library during my free periods in high school and getting crap for it?

Makes sense then... (1)

nielzz (822766) | more than 5 years ago | (#29273595)

On the DS i played tetris waaay to much. I would find myself in the office, talking about office-stuff and just thinking 'If this dude, that is sitting on this chair, takes his screen on his lap and sits parralel to this closet, he would make like 3 lines'. That is when I stoped playing. Scary. But real.

Thanks, Captiain Obvious! (3, Funny)

doti (966971) | more than 5 years ago | (#29273597)

Next:

"Exercising Improves Your Body"

News at 11.

Anybody else here played the MS Tetris much? (1, Interesting)

clone53421 (1310749) | more than 5 years ago | (#29273641)

There was a version of Tetris included with the Best of Windows Entertainment Pack (BOWEP). I've spent so many hours on that game it's not even funny... it went up to level 10 (the levels advanced according to how many lines you cleared... level 10 began after 93 lines), although you could start at any level (higher levels give more points).

It's kinda strict, though... it doesn't allow T-spins (where a T piece is rotated into a position that would be impossible for it to reach otherwise) or easy spin (which allows a piece to be rotated for a moment after it otherwise would have been locked down; some games allow you to continuously rotate a piece forever while others will still lock the piece after a certain point). After getting used to the easy spin on the Facebook version of Tetris, level 10 of MS Tetris is damn hard...

It had a couple of bugs, though, that the testers never found... apparently they weren't too hard-core (it takes a while to reach them)...

First, they used a 16-bit signed int to hold the score, which meant the highest possible score was 32,767 points – which was entirely possible for a good player to reach. So, if you manage to reach 32,767 points, it rolls to -32,768 points and starts counting upward toward zero again (my high score is -256 points, which comes out to 65,280 points, but I've also rolled it back up through zero on one occasion – the game didn't save that high score). The high score system also flaked out when you got negative scores: it sorted them correctly to the top of the high scores, but if the high scores had negative scores at the top it sometimes said you got a high score when you actually didn't and the high score table could get corrupted with positive scores on top of the negative ones. It asked whether to save the high scores when you exited the game, though, so whenever it incorrectly thought I got a high score I always exited the game without saving the high scores to make sure the list didn't get corrupted.

The second bug was even harder to reach... the routine to print the score on the screen didn't erase the old score, it just covered it. As long as the scores are increasing, it's fine, but -9999 won't entirely cover -10000, leaving one unchanging digit at the end of the score. The same thing occurs between -1000 and -999, etc, until finally when you roll the number back into the positive range the negative sign is gone. Since the negative sign isn't as wide as the numerals, there's half a digit cut off after the score after that. (If the window is entirely re-painted, such as by minimizing it and then restoring it, the score will be correctly shown.) The actual digit shown at the end will be arbitrary, since you get different amounts of points for different moves – whatever the final digit of your score was will remain if the new score is shorter than the old.

If anybody's interested, I posted a video on YouTube a while ago of myself playing the game and highlighting both of these bugs. I can't get the link right now but you should be able to get my channel [youtube.com] and there are only a few so you'll find it easily.

Of course it increases brain density! (4, Funny)

GameboyRMH (1153867) | more than 5 years ago | (#29273675)

Playing tetris causes your brain to pack its neurons together more tightly!

Re:Of course it increases brain density! (1)

BoogieChile (517082) | more than 5 years ago | (#29274491)

My god, it's turtles all the way down!

Re:Of course it increases brain density! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#29275345)

Just don't pack them too tightly or they disappear, always leave a hole.

So tetris at work = good (0, Offtopic)

d-r0ck (1365765) | more than 5 years ago | (#29273687)

[Peter is wearing shorts, sandals and a paisley shirt, with his feet up on his desk, munching chips and playing tetris on his computer]
Bill Lumbergh: Hello Peter, what's happening? Listen, are you gonna have those TPS reports for us this afternoon?
Peter Gibbons: No.
Bill Lumbergh: Ah. Well then I suppose we should go ahead and have a little talk.
Peter Gibbons: Not right now Lumbergh, I'm kinda busy. You know what, in fact I'm gonna have to ask you to just go ahead and come back later, I've got a meeting with the Bobs in a couple minutes.
Bill Lumbergh: I wasn't aware of a meeting with them.
Peter Gibbons: Yeah, they called me at home.

The golden rule (and know your sources) (2, Insightful)

HikingStick (878216) | more than 5 years ago | (#29273723)

The study, funded by Tetris' makers and authored by investigators at the Mind Research Network in New Mexico...

Most people are familar with the Golden Rule (Do unto others as you would have them do unto you), and most in business are familiar with the other golden rule (He who has the gold makes the rules). I would just be cautious about any study that is funded by a game producer that concludes that games are good for you.

I don't doubt that such a positive correllation is possible. I just am leary of any study that finds in favor of the payor. It's like those periodic news stories you see where it is touted that businesses are moving back toward formal attire, that "the suit is back", or similar sentiments. The most common sources for those news items (if they are even worthy of being called "news") are PR firms associated with menswear retailers like The Men's Warehouse. All the statistics in the press releases seem well researched and are accepted as valid, but the conclusions are being made while the menswear retailer(s) hold(s) the purse strings.

The only reassuring thing about this particular study is the research entity, the Mind Research Network. They appear to be a legitimate non-profit corporation whose mission centers around understanding mental illness and cognitive processes. I couldn't find any serious criticisms of their other work. It will be interesting to see how this study fares as it is reviewed by peers and colleagues.

Re:The golden rule (and know your sources) (1)

icebrain (944107) | more than 5 years ago | (#29274997)

Most people are familar with the Golden Rule (Do unto others as you would have them do unto you), and most in business are familiar with the other golden rule (He who has the gold makes the rules).

I've always been partial to this version: "Do unto others before they do unto you" ;)

What about Halo and Super Smash Bros? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#29273809)

I know some dudes who are insane at these games but I am pretty sure that are clinically retarded. Do some games make you more stupid? Well, I am pretty confident WoW does.

Turbo Button Hack (3, Interesting)

Dr. Hok (702268) | more than 5 years ago | (#29273823)

I used to play the original tetris on a 386. It was incredibly relaxing: When you activated the turbo button [wikipedia.org] while tetris started, it calibrated its delay loop for sizzling 40 MHz. Then push it again to clock it down to 4.77 MHz and enjoy. You could spend a whole day playing it and achieve miracle high scores, all the while doing things, like spending a couple of minutes in the bathroom, making coffee in the kitchen, doing homework etc.
How I miss the turbo button...

Re:Turbo Button Hack (1)

tepples (727027) | more than 5 years ago | (#29274169)

How I miss the turbo button...

You can have it back with DOSBox, along with Tetris 3.12 [oversigma.com] .

In Soviet Russia... (3, Funny)

Chysn (898420) | more than 5 years ago | (#29273833)

...you improve Tetris's brain.

That's why I read \. (1)

supermies (1150423) | more than 5 years ago | (#29273925)

However, researchers found no correlation between reading slashdot and increased brain activity. At least, not in girls.

Re:That's why I read \. (1)

Tweenk (1274968) | more than 5 years ago | (#29275055)

The same must be true for boys because you even managed to misspell /.

Re:That's why I read \. (1)

supermies (1150423) | more than 5 years ago | (#29275613)

Unless it was intentional. You've proved my point.

Re:That's why I read \. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#29275193)

Duh. The sample size was too small.

Anonymous Coward (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#29274281)

"The study's subjects, a group of adolescent girls, underwent MRI scans before and after a three-month Tetris practice period."

Adolescent, so their body's would be altering anyway as they did the better known thing of Ageing.
Surely for a test like this get someone who'd be shocking to have a denser brain.
Give tetris to very aged pensioners!

The article is talking shite (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#29274319)

There's loads of crap fMRI research and this looks like another one.
The article talks about blue areas being more efficient. You can't measure efficiency of neural processing with fMRI and it doesn't look like the actual research article claims this either:

http://www.biomedcentral.com/1756-0500/2/174/abstract

Yet another load of.... (1)

sbeckstead (555647) | more than 5 years ago | (#29274847)

This actually had already been shown in studies of nuns with incredibly long life spans with few signs of dementia even at the ages of 97 plus. Complex interaction and puzzle solving increase the brain's ability to form connections and stay that way way past the point that it should have started deteriorating. The nuns apparently did all kinds of brain teasers and puzzles including spatial puzzles and this was part of their secret to extremely long mentally stable lives. Another link to Martin Gardner here as it was in his column that I read about this in the mid '80s or at least in the same publication. And the summary here reads really weird, did Tetris have music of some sort. I never played it with the sound on so I couldn't tell you.

WTF? (1)

Blakey Rat (99501) | more than 5 years ago | (#29275139)

Unfortunately, storing a half million copies of the song negates any practical functional gains beyond loading your trunk very efficiently.

What is this? Some kind of joke? Or... something?

Is it like, burning a half-million copies of the Tetris song to CD fills up your car trunk?

WTF is going on with this sentence? I can't make heads or tails of it.

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