Philadelphia skyscraper to transform into world's largest game of "Tetris"

5:40 AM, Mar 12, 2014   |    comments
(Photo credit: Drexel University)
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PHILADELPHIA (CBS) - The world's largest video game "screen" is coming back.  It's actually the facade of the Cira Centre, next to 30th Street Station, where the Guinness record was set last year with 'Pong.'  Next month, there will be a new game and even more playable real estate, as KYW tech editor Ian Bush reports.

Tetris is growing to new heights on the 29-story skyscraper.

"We're going to have two games, one on each side, going at the same time.  People playing against each other, people playing cooperatively.  Cooperative Tetris is done by having one player control the lateral movement, left and right, and the other controlling rotation.  So you and I have to work together to place that block," says Frank Lee.

Lee, the world recordholder and associate professor of digital media in the Westphal College of Media Arts and Design at Drexel University says he's using Cira's north and south-facing LEDs to create the blocks and rows with more game information displayed on the narrower east and west sides.  Pong, by comparison, was played on just the north facade.

"Technology seems to have made us more isolated from each other, but I wanted to use technology in games to bring us together - to create an aesthetic of a shared moment where we're sharing in the experience.  The entire city is sharing in the experience."

Lee's still scoping out a south side location for game play, but the main event - and joysticks - will be set up at Eakins Oval.

There's a lottery to decide who will get one of the 150 (or so) slots in what's expected to be a popular opener to the annual Philly Tech Week, which starts on April 4th.

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