Saturday, 5 April 2014

Skyscraper-sized Tetris kicks off Philly Tech Week

Tetris fans in Philadelphia were able to play their favourite video game on an epic scale when it was projected onto a skyscraper.

Using a joystick, players were able to move images of supersized shapes displayed on two sides of the 29-storey Cira Centre.

The mirrored tower, which has hundreds of LED lights embedded in its glass facade, normally displays colourful geometric patterns at night.

And organisers hoped that Saturday’s spectacle, which kicked off a citywide series of events called Philly Tech Week, would inspire onlookers and players to think about the possibilities of technology.

The display also celebrated the upcoming 30th anniversary of Tetris, which was created by Russian computer programmer Alexey Pajitnov in 1984.

The game challenges players to rotate and arrange falling shapes into complete rows.
Frank Lee, a digital media professor at Drexel University, said Tetris is a game revered as the epitome of elegance and simplicity

The game designer, who oversaw creation of the giant display, said putting it on an office building is like making a huge virtual campfire.

“What I wanted to create was essentially a shared moment for the city of Philadelphia,” he said.
This won't be the first time Tetris has been played on a building. But the 100,000 -square-foot (9,300-square- metre) “ screen” - which includes the north and south faces of the structure - could be a record.

Lee already holds the Guinness World Record for the world's largest architectural video game display for playing Pong on one side of the Cira Centre last year. Pong is an electronic version of paddleball developed by Atari in 1972.

Tetris became a global phenomenon in the late 1980s after game designer Henk Rogers, who had seen it at a trade show in Las Vegas, acquired the rights and struck a deal to put it on Nintendo's original Game Boy.

Mr Rogers said he cannot believe the longevity of Tetris, which decades later continues to mesmerise players on more than 30 platforms.

“If a game lasts a year, that's amazing,” said Mr Rogers, now managing director of The Tetris Company.

“They usually go out of style very quickly.”

He said several new Tetris products and initiatives are planned for release around its 6 June anniversary.

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