by Clara Webb
Alex Brewer, an 8th year doctoral student in psychology at Beaumont & Leigh University in Pennsylvania, failed to complete his PhD in the university’s required time frame, but was awarded an honorary doctorate Sunday in recognition of his achievements at the iPhone version of the game Tetris.
“I couldn’t be happier if I had gotten a real degree and not wasted eight years of my life,” Brewer said. “I worked so hard to get that high score. It was a real triumph when I unseated that eleven-year-old kid in Saskatchewan.”
Brewer began his Tetris quest two years ago as a means of avoiding writing his dissertation. The iPhone was a Christmas gift from his mother.
“I thought all the organization and productivity applications would help him with his work,” Betty Brewer said, sighing. “I didn’t know there were games on it. But I suppose a degree is a degree.”
Brewer began his procrastination gaming career immediately after achieving ABD status, but did not find his focus until iPhone Tetris emerged as his true calling.
“I played a lot of computer solitaire and online puzzles in the early years, but there was no future in that. It’s been done,” he said. Brewer moved on to playing Farmville on Facebook, but quit that game when people threatened to “defriend” him for posting too many requests for people to send him virtual cows and chickens.
Not everyone is celebrating Brewer’s triumph. Tetris enthusiasts in online forums dispute his claim to have beaten the 26 year-old video game. The controversy centers on the existential question of whether or not it is even possible to “beat” the game, which exists in multiple versions. Brewer’s supporters argue that he achieved the highest score mathematically possible in the iPhone version and, therefore, has rightful claim to have beaten the game. Opponents say that the game is designed to be played forever and is unbeatable.
Brewer is not worried about his detractors. He is off to celebrate and plans to spend his now available time finding ways to earn money from his achievement in order to pay off his $200,000 in student loans.