John "Omega" Williams
People have been designing games and puzzles using blokus-like pieces for well more than a century, and there are piles of games using them. The general term for these kinds of pieces is polyominoes. Math types love 'em. A google search will reveal gads of information. It's surprising to me that it took this long for a polyomino-based game to become as popular as blokus has. Probably reflects the fact that alot more goes into making a game popular than just the game itself.
Tetris caught on big time in arcades and PCs and laid the groundwork for board games. It was inevitible someone would try a tetris-esque board game again. Skirred just kinda beat several to it. But never caught on.