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The Man Who Won Tetris
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The Man Who Won Tetris

September 10, 2009 Article Start Previous Page 2 of 5 Next

Is Blue Planet related to Avatar Reality?

HR: No, those are separate companies.

Even though Avatar Reality's game is called Blue Mars, a virtual life game.

HR: Exactly.

Wasn't the original concept for that a terraforming thing?

HR: No, there was never... [Avatar Reality] has never made a game before.

If you go back far enough, I had a company in Japan called Bulletproof Software, which was my publishing company. That's BPS. I had looked for a nicer meaning for the BPS acronym, which was actually "bits per second," and I came up with Bulletproof Software. All it does is Tetris. It has nothing to do with Avatar Reality.

As for the terraformed Mars -- right now, when people think of Mars, they think of a red planet. So, when we say Blue Mars, people go, "Oh, you've changed the color? What has happened?"

We've terraformed it; we've made it look like Earth. With that business, what we're doing is leasing land to companies that want to build cities on Mars. Each city is like a Second Life. We're providing them with the infrastructure, how to do transactions, and the 3D world.

We have the most beautiful 3D world. We're focused on making great avatars. The core group in that company is the core group of people that made the Square movie technology.

Yeah, the team from the film The Spirits Within.

HR: Yeah. The top guy there is Kaz Hashimoto. Kaz Hashimoto was the CTO of Square going back to before they made the movie. He did the whole workflow and how to make that kind of movie. He's our genius.

How did you end up using CryEngine for that?

HR: I told them, "Look, if it exists somewhere, buy it or license it. If it doesn't exist, build it. I don't want you to build anything that's already been built somewhere else."

So that's how we're doing it: focusing on the things that are unique and new.

But you also see the idea of terraforming Mars as potentially a real-world development as well, right?

HR: Yes, eventually.

Four years ago, I had a heart attack. It woke me up, and it made me think about what I want to accomplish before I die.

I have four missions in life. My first one is to end the use of carbon-based fuel, because it's really hurting us. It's really hurting us not just environmentally but economically and politically. In every possible way, it's hurting us, so we have to get off carbon-based fuel, starting with fossil fuel, and starting in Hawaii. That's the Blue Planet Foundation.

We are already making a lot of headway in Hawaii, and as Hawaii is moving in the right direction, then we're going to go Pacific Rim, because the real problem in the future is going to be China. It's a problem right now. I mean, they're building a new coal fire plant every two weeks, for Christ's sake.

How do you address that?

HR: Well, what you do is you show them a more economic and a more viable way of doing it that's clean. And ultimately, if you're using wind energy, solar energy, or geo thermal energy -- all those forms of energy -- once you build the infrastructure, the energy is free. Whereas if you build coal or oil or whatever it is, you build the plant, and then you keep on paying. It's like building an addiction.

So, we want to get rid of all this addiction to...well, you can say foreign oil. When everybody in China starts driving a car, you're going to see the price of gasoline get jacked up to unbelievable prices.

It will work out. That's the first one. The second one is ending war. I think if the first one gets solved, the second one is a lot easier. There are a lot of places in the world that have already sort of worked out their [differences]. I would say it's a hormone imbalance of society.

Do you mean organizations like the European Union?

HR: Yeah. They sort of got together. And look at Japan. It used to be a little country that used to fight each other, until they said, "Wait a minute. We're actually one people."

Someday, all people the world are going to wake up and say, "Hey, we're all one people."

We're doing something with Tetris that hopefully helps us move in that direction. I have a product in development now called Tetris Friends, and Tetris Friends will allow you to play with people in any other country. It's asynchronous, so you don't have to stay awake in the middle of the night to play somebody on the other side.

That's interesting, since Tetris is fundamentally a real-time game.

HR: It's a real-time game, but you can record the real-time game. Golf is a real-time game, but you can totally understand how you could record somebody playing golf, and then you could play with the record of that person's game.

A ghost score, basically.

HR: Yeah. A ghost kind of thing, exactly. It's still interactive. We still have ways of sending attacks and getting squeezed out and all that. We also have a handicapping system, which enables us to play players of different levels with each other. And we're working on a translation system, which allows people of different languages to speak to each other.

Wow. How is that working out?

HR: The idea is that we can find you a friend -- if you're a serious player, it's a good serious player to play with. Or, if you're into astronomy, then you could find someone who's into astronomy. Whatever it is that you're into, we'll find you friends that are into things that you're interested in.

But on the more interesting level, we can find you somebody who's just psychologically a good match to have as a friend. You might end up having friends on the other side of some conflict, for example. So hopefully, when conflict starts to happen, we start to connect people on both sides of the conflict, and people start talking to each other, and that's the first step towards conflict resolution.

Because right now, they're just not talking, and they're just shooting. If we can get that happening, I think we will reduce the tensions in the world.

Article Start Previous Page 2 of 5 Next

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