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December 02, 2016

If they ever do that, we won't know what they were thinking!

Tetris is widely considered to be the most perfectly designed videogame in the history of the form, which makes it all the more baffling that the makers of the bestselling title would decide to add swastika-shaped pieces to it, which they haven’t, yet, but might. If they do, they ought to be ashamed of themselves.

This is supposed to be a lighthearted game that can be enjoyed by people of all backgrounds, so to insert a symbol that represents bigotry into it would be completely unacceptable. I mean, what in God’s name would they be thinking if they actually did this?

The issue first came to my attention last week when I downloaded a copy of Tetris to play with my son, which is when I first noticed the game could potentially feature Nazi imagery. Quite frankly, I was shocked. I don’t want my child exposed to that kind of hate, which thankfully, he wasn’t.

Besides the sheer offensiveness of the symbol itself, a swastika tetrimino would completely ruin the gameplay. The unwieldy shape of the swastika would create gaps under its spokes that make it impossible for players to build lines, which is the whole point of the game. So even from a design standpoint, it’s completely asinine. It is truly disheartening if the people who make Tetris can’t see that.

Martin Luther King would have hated playing Tetris with swastikas. It goes against everything he stands for.

Don’t get me wrong: The makers of Tetris should be free to create provocative entertainment that challenges their audience. And of course they have the right to put any images into their game that they choose. But they need to understand that even if they aren’t making lines together, just having swastika tiles in the vertical shaft cheapens the integrity of the ‘T’ shaped piece.

It’s reductive to think this issue is just about swastikas. It would be just as upsetting if Mario Kart added a mushroom shaped like Mark David Chapman. That guy should be shunned for what he did, not glorified.

We need to hold The Tetris Company LLC accountable, because to remain silent in the face of hypothetical hate is to tacitly accept it. They must do better, and they have been.