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Sky News Reporter’s “Tetris Is Not A Life Goal” Comment To 13-Year-Old Champ Causes Uproar

Sky News Reporter’s “Tetris Is Not A Life Goal” Comment To 13-Year-Old Champ Causes Uproar

The original Tetris game on the Nintendo Entertainment System has never been beaten by any known human before. However, On December 21, 13-year-old Willis Gibson from Oklahoma became a global sensation when he beat the game by reaching the “kill screen” where the system was unable to generate more falling blocks. His score read “999999”. Rather than being excited, a Sky News journalist found it disturbing.

Sky News Reporter’s “Tetris Is Not A Life Goal” Comment To 13-Year-Old Champ Causes Uproar
13-year-old Willis Gibson

The only time in the past that the kill screen was achieved in the Tetris game was with the help of AI. Therefore, it was not surprising that the Oklahoma teenager was stunned at his own achievement. The teenager’s excited reaction after beating the game made it to mainstream media.

“I’m going to pass out, I can’t feel my fingers,” said the 13-year-old as he slumped back in his chair after beating Tetris level 157.

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What is even more surprising was that it took the teenager only 38 minutes to achieve the incredible feat, according to a BBC report. A few years ago, it was believed that humans could only play up to level 29. Gibson’s achievement in Tetris has made some believe that perhaps, humans stand a chance against AI.

Tetris was first created by Soviet engineer Alexey Pajitnov in 1984. The game eventually became a global hit after its debut on the Nintendo Entertainment System and Nintendo’s Game Boy. Today, the game is available on multiple platforms, including mobile phones.

Gibson started playing Tetris when he was 11 years old but said he never expected to beat the game. In addition to beating the game, the teenager also set a new overall score and broke three other Tetris world records.

The furthest any other known player has gone in the game was level 30. The feat was achieved by professional competitive gamer Thor Aackerlund in 2010. Aackerlund achieved the feat using a technique called hypertapping where the player vibrates their fingers in a way that moves the controller faster than the in-game speed.

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Gibson’s achievement has inspired a new generation of Tetris players who are eager to break the record set by the 13-year-old. Many of the new Tetris players have shared their efforts on social media.

“Tetris is not a life goal” comment by a Sky News journalist was considered insensitive

Sky News Reporter’s “Tetris Is Not A Life Goal” Comment To 13-Year-Old Champ Causes Uproar
Sky News journalist Jayne Secker

Jayne Secker, a 51-year-old Sky News journalist covered the Tetris story on Thursday, December 4, 2024. At the end of the report, Secker appears to break away from the script and issued some advice to the teenager that many considered demeaning to the entire video game community.

“As a mother, I would just say step away from the screen, go outside, get some fresh air,” Secker said with a wry smile. “Beating Tetris is not a life goal.”

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VGC’s Chris Scullion shared the footage of the report on X and the comment section quickly blew up with reactions criticizing the 51-year-old journalist for her comment.

“It is the Year of Our Lord 2024 and @SkyNews is still telling people who play video games to go outside and get some fresh air, notably on the same day they’re praising a 16-year-old darts player,” Scullion wrote in the description accompanying the footage.

Sky News Reporter’s “Tetris Is Not A Life Goal” Comment To 13-Year-Old Champ Causes Uproar
Willis Gibson at the 2023 Classic Tetris World Championship (Photo credit: David Macdonald via NYTimes)

It appears the stereotypic label of gamers as “good-for-nothing” will not easily go away. If ever there was a doubt, the comment from Secker has reinforced that view. While video games are just like every other form of entertainment—if not better—it continue to be in the bottom rung of the ladder in the view of a small section of critics.

Interestingly, it was Gibson’s mother Karin Cox, 39, who bought the Nintendo console RetroN for her son. Ms. Cox is a high school math teacher and was totally fine with her son playing Tetris—because he does other things outside the game. What Secker has done is indirectly accuse Ms. Cox of bad parenting.

“Seeing that the reporter [has] been praising a 16yo for getting to the darts final,” wrote Twitch streamer @The_Stebe. “Did she say that this kid should have gone outside and get some fresh air as well because being a darts player isn’t a life goal as well? Very disrespectful for gamers who enjoy a hobby that is bigger than any industry today.”

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Jimmy Bowsers, community manager for Sumo Digital also weighed in on the discussion, “As a Dad, I can safely tell you if Kit beat an unbeatable game and set a world record at 13 I’d be incredibly proud. That comment was so outdated and is such poor taste to basically punch down on a child. I’m almost lost for words.”

“What’s bonkers about how this has been covered is if it was, say a child chess champion, we’d all be celebrating—they’d even be invited to Downing Street to play chess,” wrote Bhavina Bharkada, head of comms at the UK’s games industry trade body UKIE.

The conversation goes on and on. However, one certain thing is that in 2024, video game players are still fighting for respect, regardless of how much the industry has contributed to society. Join the conversation in the comment box below.