Professor's Towering Game of 'Tetris' to Link City For Philly Tech Week
March 11, 2014
In a follow-up to the world record-setting game of Pong that kicked off Philly Tech Week in historic fashion last year, Drexel’s Frank Lee, PhD, founder of Drexel’s Entrepreneurial Game Studio is planning an even bigger feat of video game hacking for the opening of this year’s celebration on April 4. A two-sided game of "Tetris," occupying more than 100,000 square feet of Brandywine Realty Trust’s 29-story Cira Centre, will give players a chance to square off from opposite sides of the city.
Last year’s gaming spectacle brought hundreds of gamers to the iconic steps of the Philadelphia Museum of Art for the chance to play Pong. This time around, players take the controller at Eakins Oval, on the north side of the building and square off against opponents stationed on the south side, in addition to playing a cooperative version of the game in pairs.
“My goal for creating 'Pong' on the Cira Centre last year, was for people in Philadelphia to have a unique, shared experience,” Lee said. “It wasn’t just for the several hundred people who got to play, but thousands of others – from people walking along Schuylkill River to people driving on I-76, for those couple of hours, we were all sharing in that experience.”
“One regret that I had was that we only used one side of the building. So it was only visible to half of the city. This year, I wanted to find a way to use all sides of the building and truly created an aesthetic of a unique and fleeting moment shared by all the people in Philadelphia,” said Lee, who is a co-founder of Drexel’s Game Design program, which was recently ranked No. 4 (undergrad) and No. 6 (graduate) in the nation by The Princeton Review.
The grand night of gaming, will open Philly Tech Week Presented by AT&T on Friday, April 4. A festival of gaming, “Arcade at the Oval,” will allow revelers to play classic arcade games, enjoy food from more than 10 different local food trucks and take in live performances while watching and playing the giant game of "Tetris."
“Philly Tech Week should be a platform for exceptional acts of innovation,” said Christopher Wink, cofounder of Technical.ly Philly, which organizes the week. “The kickoff event will put on display the broad gaming and interactive communities of Philadelphia for all to see and experience.”
The "Pong" event was recognized as a Guinness World Record for the “Largest Architectural Video Game Display” – utilizing 460 light emitting diodes affixed to the Centre’s shadowbox spandrels and occupying a playing area of 59,800 square feet. Lee’s plans for the 2014 iteration of skyscraper gaming will utilize both the north- and south-facing walls, which would double the square-footage and allow playing from multiple locations.
“We're delighted to once again partner with Dr. Frank Lee and his team at Drexel on this project and participate in Philly Tech Week,” said Gerard H. Sweeney, President and CEO of Brandywine Realty Trust. “Last year’s Pong game at Cira Centre was a great accomplishment. Our hope is that this year's 'Tetris' event will capitalize on that success and this unique opportunity will continue to solidify the University City neighborhood as one of the nation's leading communities for cultivating innovation and technology. Furthermore, this project will perpetuate the city of Philadelphia's longstanding reputation for inspiring the imagination and fostering the power of creativity."
For a chance to play "Tetris," sign up for the online lottery: ph.ly/tetrislottery – winners will be announced at the Arcade at the Oval on Friday night. A rain date for the event is scheduled for Sunday, April 6.
Philly Tech Week runs from April 4-12 and includes 100 events, gatherings and fun opportunities celebrating technology and innovation in Philadelphia. For more information about Philly Tech Week visit www.phillytechweek.com.