KENTWOOD, Mich. (WOOD) — Bright lights, cameras everywhere and a cheering crowd all made for an exciting weekend for East Kentwood High School senior Matthew Nguyen.
Nguyen went to Portland, Ore. last weekend to compete in the Classic Tetris World Championships where he competed under the name DAASIANN in the Silver Bracket, in which he took first place.
Nguyen started playing Tetris in eighth grade after a friend introduced him to it at a birthday party. Once the party had ended, he started playing and realized that not only was he good, but he also really enjoyed it.
“I started watching other players on YouTube and seeing how they did,” Nguyen said. “I think that’s how I improved so quickly, was from watching so many players online.”
Classic Tetris is different from the version available on newer gaming systems, like the Nintendo Switch. Competing in the tournament required Nguyen to learn on old-school equipment.
“You have to find an old Nintendo on eBay and then you have to buy it somehow because there aren’t very many so they can be expensive,” he said. “And then hook that up to a computer so you can share your games.”
While many parents put limits on how much time their children spend playing video games, Matthew thinks there can be a big benefit to playing Tetris.
“It’s more of a game that you can play that actually helps you relax and keeps your brain developed in a way where you can process the pieces and think your way through,” he said. “It’s a puzzle, it uses problem-solving.”
It also forces competitors to remain cool under pressure, if they want to win. Nguyen said he thinks the skills he’s learned competing in Tetris, have translated to school and have been useful when he finds himself under stress during a test or other school project.
Alex Giarmo is one of Nguyen’s teachers at East Kentwood High School. He said everyone was excited to hear about the major accomplishment.
“Everybody knows Tetris, and most people have played,” Giarmo said. “So to be the best at something like that, it’s not some obscure thing that five people in the world play. He was playing against the best people in the world and something a lot of people do… to get to that level requires an incredible amount of skill and discipline and effort, regardless of what it is.”
There was another element to the competition that Nguyen really enjoyed; he felt at home.
“I loved being there and meeting the people and just being in a community of people that I can relate to,” he said.