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GDC + VRDC 2019 Session Scheduler

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'Tetris' World Championship: Building Explosive Esports on 8-bit Nintendo

Chris Tang (Senior Game Designer, Hitsparks Games)

Location: Room 2016, West Hall

Date: Thursday, March 21

Time: 5:30pm - 6:30pm

Pass Type: All Access, GDC Conference + Summits, GDC Conference - Get your pass now!

Topic: Business & Marketing, Design

Format: Session

Vault Recording: Video

Audience Level: All

'Tetris' is one of the world's best-known games. The Classic 'Tetris' World Championship started in 2010 as a community effort, but has grown rapidly with worldwide regionals, sponsorships from EA, Ubisoft and SEGA, and millions of views online. Carrying on the tradition of the 1990 Nintendo World Championships, the CTWC is an anomaly in esports with its use of 30-year old cartridges and NES systems, augmented with modern technologies to create a compelling competitive environment where one would not normally exist. This session explores how the CTWC format makes the most of odd things like NES Tetris' quirky killscreens, OCR technology, a passionate community low in toxicity and high in intellect, attachment to growing gaming events, explosive memes, and having an amazing role model for a champion. How the CTWC's esports culture reflects back positively to strengthen the 'Tetris' IP and communities will be highlighted.


Attendees will learn how developing esports challenges were overcome by using technology, format design and community. This session aims to inspire new esports opportunities applicable to games and franchises that may have been overlooked due to design, age, or format, as the CTWC's unique evolution and culture are explored.

Intended Audience

Developers, publishers, or IP holders of games with an interest in cultivating esports activities for their titles may discover analogies that work for their products. Game communities may find successful examples to follow for collaboration with a publisher or IP, as growing an esports brand potentially benefits all parties.