Philadelphia Plays Tetris on a Skyscraper

TetrisPhiladelphia decided to open its annual Tech Week with a giant game of skyscraper Tetris. The classic gameboy phenomenon Tetris, now able to be played on laptops, iPads, and other deceives, was played on a super-sized display to kick off the annual tech event. Gamers gathered to play the game on two sides of the LED-clad 29-story Cira Centre in downtown Philadelphia.

It isn’t the first time a game has been played on a huge building. In fact, the previous year, gamers played the tantalizing game of Pong on the side of the huge building. It isn’t even the first time that Tetris has been played on a super-sized screen. Tetris has been played on buildings before, however the 100,000 square foot “screen” which was Philadelphia’s Cira Centre may have set a record for the largest ever “display” that Tetris has graced.

One city resident, Sam Robinson, in speaking to the press stated, “It has been probably 15 years since I played Tetris last on a Gameboy, and it’s much different playing on the side of a building that’s a half-mile away. Everything is happening so quick.” Philadelphia residents gathered to see the game played on the sides of the massive skyscraper, and the organizers of Tech Week hope that the spectacle helps inspire viewers about the possibilities of technology.

The entire event was part of Philadelphia’s annual Tech Week, and this year organizers decided to go with skyscraper Tetris to kick off the festivities. Frank Lee, a Drexel University associate professor in the area of digital media, discussed some reasons that Tetris was chosen for this year’s Tech Week. In addition to fitting the theme of Tech Week, it was apparently also a way of celebrating the fast approaching 30th anniversary of one the simplest and yet most popular games in the history of gaming.

Lee is responsible for the giant game of Pong played on the side of the Cira Centre last year, for which he receive a Guinness World Record. He is hoping to receive another for this years game of Tetris played on the giant display. Lee, himself a game designer, spoke about the challenges of placing a game on a display as huge as the Cira Centre. The Drexel associate professor said it was somewhat like “making a huge virtual campfire.”

In speaking to the crowds at the event, Lee explained how the entire affair of putting games on the side of the huge building began simply as a was of reliving his favorite childhood games. In the end however Lee expressed his pleasant reaction to the fact that the whole thing appears to have united Philly locals under the banner of technology.

Tetris is one of the most popular and long lasting games created in the relatively short history of computerized gaming. The “simple but elegant” game was created by Russian programmer Alexey Pajitnov in the mid 1980s. The game however did not become the giant success it is today until a game designer named Hank Rogers came across the game, bought the rights, and had the game placed onto Nintendo’s Gameboy. Once the game was introduced for the Gameboy, its popularity took off, and Tetris has never looked back.

As Philadelphia kicked off Tech Week with a skyscraper-sized game of Tetris, it highlighted the longevity of one of the most “simple yet elegant” games ever made. At the same time, Tech Week united the city, encouraging residents to think about the amazing things made possible by the advancement of technology.

By Daniel Worku


USA Today

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