Drexel University’s Frank Lee, PhD, has officially outdone himself. The man behind this spring’s giant game of Tetris® --played on the north and south sides of Brandywine Realty Trust’s Cira Centre skyscraper-- replaced his own name in the Guinness World Records ledger as the creator of the world’s “largest architectural videogame display.”
Lee, an associate professor in the Antoinette Westphal College of Media Arts & Design and founder of Drexel’s Entrepreneurial Game Studio, initially set the record last year, when he turned one of Cira Centre’s 29-story LED arrays into a game of Pong as part of Philly Tech Week. This time around, he used the LEDs on both the north and south sides of the edifice –essentially doubling the size of the display to an astounding 119,600 square feet- to create a massive Tetris game.
To create the display, Lee’s team employed 460 LEDs on each side of the building to form a 20-by-23-pixel screen for the game. Players were stationed at Eakins Oval in front of the Philadelphia Museum of Art and on Drexel’s campus, nearly two miles away, to take advantage of the two-sided game play.
“I’m delighted that we were able to earn this recognition once again,” Lee said. “More so than breaking a record, my goal with this project was to unite the people of the city of Philadelphia around a public art installation – to give them a shared experience and inspire them to think about how a building can be more than just a building and, by extension, how the city can be much more than just a bunch of buildings and people sharing the same space. I thank Brandywine Realty Trust, Technical.ly Philly and our other partners for sharing the vision and making this happen.”
As part of Philly Tech Week’s opening event in April, more than 2,500 people watched as competitors took the controls to play the Tetris game, head-to-head, on opposite sides of the building. Among the players was Henk Rogers, managing director, The Tetris Company, who joined Lee for a collaborative game in honor of the 30th anniversary of the creation of Tetris.
“Watching Tetris come to life on the Cira Centre was a dream come true for me and hundreds of millions of Tetris players around the world,” said Rogers, “Congratulations to Frank and his team for pulling off this incredible – and now world record-setting – event. It was an amazing experience to kick off our 30th anniversary!”
Lee recruited undergraduate computer science student Colan Biemer and College of Computing & Informatics staff member Gaylord Holder to achieve the feat, which required coding the giant game and using the building’s lighting control software to link it to the LEDs.
“To be able to share this experience with Henk Rogers, someone in the gaming community whom I admire very much, was a special honor,” Lee said. “Tetris has been part of my life for quite a while, I’m happy that, was able to give it a nice 30th birthday present.”