In an astonishing display of skill and endurance, 13-year-old Willis Gibson from Oklahoma has achieved what many thought impossible – reaching the “kill screen” in the classic game Tetris, a feat that marks a new milestone more than three decades after the game’s release.
Willis’s remarkable journey to Tetris immortality was captured in a YouTube video that showcases his disbelief and exhilaration upon reaching level 157 (labeled as level 18 in the video). At this stage, Tetris freezes, hitting what is known as the ‘kill screen.’
This is the point where the game, not designed to be played beyond certain levels, becomes unplayable. While Tetris is technically an endless game, Willis’s achievement is seen as a form of ‘beating’ the game, setting what is believed to be a world record.
Vince Clemente, a Tetris expert, confirmed to The New York Times the uniqueness of this feat. No human player had ever reached this far in the game’s history, a domain only previously explored through artificial intelligence. Willis’s accomplishment thus stands as a singular human triumph in the world of Tetris.
Willis’s journey to Tetris stardom began with his mother’s support, who provided him with a RetroN console and a CRT TV. Dedicating about 20 hours a week to playing Tetris, Willis honed his skills to an extraordinary level. His dedication extends beyond just playing for fun; Willis is also a professional Tetris competitor.
He has made a mark in the competitive scene, placing third at the Classic Tetris World Championship in October 2023, and continues to compete in major tournaments, including an upcoming event in Waco, Texas.
Created by Alexey Pajitnov in 1985 and popularized globally with the help of Henk Rogers, Tetris has stood the test of time as one of the most beloved and best-selling video games ever. Its appeal crosses generations and platforms, making it a cultural icon in the gaming world.
The game’s legacy was further cemented with the release of a feature film in 2023, starring Taron Egerton as Rogers and Nikita Yefremov as Pajitnov, celebrating the game’s enduring impact.
Willis Gibson’s achievement in Tetris is not just a personal victory but a testament to the game’s lasting appeal and the endless possibilities it presents to players of all ages.