Tetris is very ruthless in the way it escalates tension throughout the game. Unlike a game such as Centipede , Tetris players get no reprieve when a wave ends, nor do they get the ability to start fresh when they lose a life. In Tetris players die when the box fills up with pieces that fail to make complete rows, and their game is over, period. This means that players must be constantly on their guard, constantly considering what to do with a piece before it reaches the bottom of the screen. Even a fast-paced game such as Doom provides players with plenty of respites from the action. In that first-person shooter, there are safe corners to hide in and rooms where, once all the threats have been eliminated, players can wait indefinitely without being threatened. Tetris never lets up and constantly confronts players with a new challenge that must be addressed.
The only reprieve players find in Tetris is when they battle their way back from a tricky situation. Say players have dropped some blocks in bad locations, thereby blocking off uncompleted rows below. Now the game is harder because they have less space and time to manipulate their pieces before they are stopped at the bottom of the screen. The game s tension has escalated as a result of the players mistakes. Players may be able, through careful placement of subsequent pieces, to erase the poorly placed bricks and finally complete the rows below. Now the game s tension has decreased and players are back to where they were, with more space and time to manipulate the falling pieces. Players feel a sense of accomplishment and relief. They are able to relax momentarily, knowing they have a clean slate to work with once again. Of course, this only lasts until other mistakes are made, and then the game s tension increases once again.
Further escalating the game s tension is the acceleration of the speed at which the pieces fall over the course of the game. When the players score increases above certain specific amounts, the pieces in the game start moving at a faster rate, which makes the game more nerve -racking for players. Since the pieces fall down the board more quickly, players have less time to figure out the best position for a given piece, and also less time to manipulate the piece into that position. At the game s fastest speed, most players will be incapable of placing a piece in an ideal location, and with a piece in the wrong place the game only gets harder. Just before the speed increases, players might start to feel that they have mastered the game and could play Tetris indefinitely. But when the speed increases, whatever sort of rhythm players had established is thrown off. Now players need to do everything they were doing before, only faster.
Once players start making mistakes in Tetris , these mistakes compound, making the game harder and harder to play. As players fail to complete rows at the bottom of the screen, they have less and less space in which to manipulate their pieces. When players accidentally drop a piece in the wrong location, that piece may block rows below from being completed, and will make it harder to maneuver subsequent pieces around that ill-placed piece. When players try to hold out for an I -shaped piece to fill a narrow column of empty spots, players will have to keep placing other pieces in perhaps less-than -perfect locations until that piece randomly arrives. In all these ways, Tetris penalizes players for failure. Instead of giving players a chance to catch up as some computer games do, Tetris just punishes them, making it even harder to come back from errors made previously. Further complicating matters are the bonus points players receive for removing four rows all at once with an I piece. With this tactic, the game tempts players into taking potentially game-ending risks.