Henk Rogers‘ quest to get the license for Tetris could be easily perceived as an act of greed by a man who wanted to make it big in the gaming industry. But we don’t think that it was greed that made him risk his life and drove him all the way to the Soviet Union. We don’t deny that Rogers was an extremely ambitious man, but we don’t believe that he was just running after making huge amounts of profit. When Rogers saw the game for the first time in 1988 at the electronics show in Las Vegas, he knew that he had made a big discovery. Rogers was there to sell his own game, and when he laid eyes on Tetris, he knew that it would take the entire gaming industry by storm. Rogers knew that the salesman, who was marketing the game, had no clue about the furore it was going to create in the future. Rogers could be called naive and mindless for going all the way to the Soviet Union despite people warning him against it, but one thing that cannot be denied is that he was extremely determined and ready to risk his entire life to get the rights to publish the game.
In a gut-wrenching moment in the film, we see Henk lose his temper and hammer his phone on the table when his wife, Akemi Rogers, walks in on him with their daughter. Akemi told Henk that he had spoiled everything they had. Henk kept on telling her that he was doing it to secure the future of his family, but we don’t believe that he was driven solely by that motive also. Obviously, he wanted to look out for his family, but he also knew that he had the chance to create history. Henk knew that he had discovered a miracle that appealed to every age group. He knew it was a rare phenomenon, and he couldn’t see it going into someone else’s hand.
Henk was the kind of man who didn’t want to shy away from his responsibilities toward his family, but that didn’t stop him from chasing his dream, taking risks, and living life on his own terms. He would have never missed the performance of his daughter, Maya if it hadn’t been a do-or-die situation for him. Henk was like that gambler who craved that one last big win before he folded his cards and got up from the table. But unlike the gamblers, Henk was not bluffing, and he didn’t shy away from the truth and facing the consequences. Be it asking for money from Nintendo when Mirrorsoft told him that the arcade rights belonged to them or telling Belikov that he was not a thief and he was just trying to make a fair deal, Henk never tried to betray anyone by keeping them in the dark like his counterparts.
Why Did Belikov Give The Tetris Rights To Rogers?
Henk reached the Soviet Union and realized that before asking for the rights to the game, he would have to prove that he was not a thief. Nikolai Belikov, director of Electronorgtechnica, a.k.a. Elorg had no clue about these deals that had been made between Mirrorsoft, Bulletproof Software, Atari, Sega, and Nintendo, and he saw them all as swindlers who had come to his nation to exploit and corrupt it. Belikov was under a lot of pressure at that moment, as the entire negotiation was being recorded and heard by the KGB and top-tier politicians. Still, Belikov wanted to do the right thing because he was a man of principles.
Throughout his negotiations with Rogers, we kept getting an idea of the kind of man he was. Rogers was being treated with utter disregard and was additionally beaten, threatened, and told to leave the country, but he was still adamant about staying and negotiating a fair deal. Belikov realized that Rogers had not stolen the rights to the game when they went through the contract that Robert Stein had entered into with Elorg and Maxwell’s company, Mirrorsoft. Belikov realized that it was all one big misunderstanding, and Robert Stein believed that he had the rights to the video game console as well as the personal computer because the word “computer” was not defined properly in the contract.
After proving his innocence, Rogers made an offer of $25,000, which was far less than what the other parties were willing to pay. Henk Rogers could have made false claims just as Robert Maxwell did, and he could have misled the negotiations, but instead, he chose to be honest and told Belikov that he didn’t have any money to give it to them upfront. It was proven that Henk was not a greedy man when he offered to give Elorg a share in the royalty. Up until then, neither Mirrorsoft nor Robert Stein had talked about giving any royalties, and that’s when it struck Belikov that Rogers wanted to sign a fair deal, and there was no ulterior motive on his part.
At the same time, Belikov was observing the kinds of games the others were playing. Kevin might have been doing what he thought was fair, but his father was using him as a pawn and trying to get the rights by bribing his way through. Kevin and Stein still enjoyed some state immunity, but Rogers was seen as the number one enemy, especially by Trifonov. Henk Rogers complained about his family, back in Japan, being threatened by KGB officials, and the day before he made an offer for $25,000, he was attacked on the streets. Belikov might have pretended to be this ruthless welder of the Iron Curtain, but the truth was that he saw what Rogers was going through and he realized that it was not fair. Belikov’s hands were tied, but when the water went overboard and the sharks started ripping his country apart, he decided that he had to do something about it.
Belikov and Henk were similar in more than one respect, but primarily, they both were the kind of people who were ready to take the risk and do what was right. Belikov was an honest man, and probably that is why he decided to go against the entire system, put his position and life at risk, and give the deal to the one guy who was not trying to exploit his nation. Even after Henk Rogers went back, Belikov made sure that he received the fax, in which he stated that the Maxwells had not been able to satisfy the condition mentioned in the letter of intent, and so the offer for worldwide Tetris rights was still open.
We believe that, apart from his resilience and stubbornness, Henk’s honesty had a huge role to play in the entire proceeding, as Belikov knew that it took a great deal of strength and courage to accept the truth and go the right way, no matter how long and tedious it might feel.