Tetris Gets Played on a Skyscraper


Widely popular block-puzzle game, Tetris, was played on a 29-stories high skyscraper by gamers in Philadelphia, to mark 30 years of its introduction to the world by Henk Rogers, the (now) managing director of The Tetris Company in Hawaii. The video game was created by Alexey Pajitnov of the former Soviet Union, but Rogers was the one who helped it to shoot to world fame in the late 1980s, when he saw Tetris at a trade show in Las Vegas, acquired the rights and to put it on Nintendo’s original Game Boy.

The game that was played on Brandywine Realty Trust’s Cira Centre in downtown Philadelphia on Saturday night was a part of the anniversary celebrations being held during the Philly Tech Week. A number of events will be held during this week to highlight cool technology, such as video games.

Drexel University’s Entrepreneurial Game Studio’s Head Frank Lee, was the man behind the giant-sized Tetris that was played on the skyscraper. He created the working edition of the giant-sized game through a device that controlled the LED lights of the 29-story tower.

Lee is not new to creating a game of this magnitude. Last year, he created the largest game in the world at 59,800 square feet, when he made a working adaptation of another popular game Pong, an electronic version of Atari’s 1972 paddleball. Pong had been created as a part of promotions for the Philadelphia Museum of Art and had also been displayed on another building in Philadelphia.

Lee holds the Guinness World Record for his giant version of Pong. However, even though not official as yet, Lee broke his own record with Tetris, which occupied over 100,000 square feet of the Cira Centre building.

At the event, multiple players played head-to-head games on the giant Tetris that was watched by thousands of people in the city on either side of the building. During the game, giant-sized block shapes — defined by LED lights set into the tower’s glass frontage — “fell” as players used controllers to maneuver the pieces to fit them together, as is the rule in the original normal-sized game.

One player took the controller on the northern side of the tower, while another player took to the controller on the southern side of the tower, and then faced-off with each other. Interestingly, one version of the giant game also offered players to play in pairs.

One of the players, 30-years-old Sam Robinson had not played the game for about 15 years before he had a go at the giant-sized game on Saturday. Speaking of the experience of playing it on a skyscraper, Robinson said that it was “much different” to play on a “building that is half-mile away,” than it had been to play on his Game Boy, all those years ago.

As gaming seeps deeper into popular culture, the display was a great example of video game marketing at its finest, for the benefit not only of Tetris but the whole industry.

According to Rogers, Tetris has been downloaded 425 million times on mobile devices, which signifies that millions of people play billions of matches every year. Tetris is a paid game on mobile apps.

Rogers also said that apart from Tetris getting played on a skyscraper, the game’s June 6 anniversary celebrations would include several new products and initiatives. However, he declined to discuss details of the firm’s plans.

By Faryal Najeeb

Venture Beat
The Spec
Herald Bulletin

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