Roots: Raised in Holland to age 11, attended high school in New York City
UH attendance: ’73–’75 Mānoa
Family: Wife Akemi studied English at Mānoa; four children
Claim to fame: Bringing Tetris to the world
Recent accomplishments: Game portal Tetris Online, digital photo management developer Blue Lava Technologies, multiplayer virtual world builder Avatar Reality
Saving the world seems second nature for a video gamer. But it isn’t bad-guy monsters in a virtual world that Henk Rogers has in his sights, it’s fossil fuels.
“The planet will be fine without us. Our children’s environment and our children need saving,” he explains. “Ending the use of carbon based fuel is the biggest issue our generation faces. So I picked it as the one thing that’s worth doing.”
Rogers first programmed a computer as a student at Stuyvesant High School, famous for its specialized mathematics, science and technology curriculum. He moved to Hawaiʻi as a young adult and studied computer science. He says he “loved programming computers more than anything.”
He moved on to Japan, where he formed Bullet-Proof Software, designed and developed The Black Onyx and published numerous computer role playing games for the Nippon market, earning the Japanese moniker “father of RPG.”
His biggest coup was the discovery of Tetris at a Las Vegas trade show in 1988 and successful negotiation for exclusive intellectual property rights to the game, which has sold more than 70 million units.
A heart attack in 2005 made Rogers rethink the rest of his life and re-evaluate the purpose of his work. His Blue Planet Foundation aims “to end the use of carbon-based fuels on Earth by making Hawaiʻi a global leader for energy independence within a decade.” He wants to build the clean energy movement in his adopted home by being smarter about energy use and taking advantage of natural resources such as solar, wind and ocean energy.
Become a Blue Planet Friend and “do something to reduce your carbon footprint or help others reduce theirs,” he urges.