Make us your home page
Instagram

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Watch: Gamers play giant Tetris on Philly building

PHILADELPHIA — Sam Robinson said it's been about 15 years since he last played the videogame Tetris on a Game Boy. On Saturday night, he played it on the side of a skyscraper.

Robinson, 30, was among the hundreds of Tetris fans who had a little fun Saturday with a big version of the classic video game on the side of the 29-story Cira Centre in downtown Philadelphia.

"It has been probably 15 years since I played Tetris last on a Game Boy, and it's much different playing on the side of building that's a half-mile away," the city resident said. "Everything's happening so quick."

The hundreds of LED lights embedded in the building's glass facade normally display colorful patterns. On Saturday night, images of supersized shapes "fell" on two sides of the mirrored tower as competitors used joysticks to maneuver them, creating a spectacle against the night sky that organizers hoped inspired onlookers and players to think about the possibilities of technology.

It wasn't the first time Tetris has been played on a building. But the 100,000-square-foot "screen" — which includes the north and south faces of the structure — could be a record.

The spectacle kicked off a citywide series of events called Philly Tech Week. It also celebrated the upcoming 30th anniversary of a game revered as the epitome of elegance and simplicity, said Frank Lee, an associate professor of digital media at Drexel University.

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

"This project began as a personal love letter to the games that I loved when I was a child - Pong last year, Tetris this year. But it ended up as a way of uniting the city of Philadelphia," Lee told the crowd.

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, the granddaddy of all video games, is an electronic version of paddleball developed by Atari in 1972.

Tetris, created by Russian computer programmer Alexey Pajitnov in 1984, challenges players to rotate and arrange falling shapes into complete rows.

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

Rogers, who was among the players on Saturday in Philadelphia, said he can't believe the longevity of Tetris, which decades later continues to mesmerize players on more than 30 platforms.

"If a game lasts a year, that's amazing," said Rogers, now managing director of The Tetris Co. "They usually go out of style very quickly."

Rogers said several new Tetris products and initiatives are planned for release around its June 6 anniversary. He declined to discuss details.

Watch: Gamers play giant Tetris on Philly building 04/06/14 [Last modified: Sunday, April 6, 2014 4:28pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. Trigaux: How Moffitt Cancer's M2Gen startup won $75 million from Hearst

    Business

    TAMPA — A Moffitt Cancer Center spin-off that's building a massive genetic data base of individual patient cancer information just caught the attention of a deep-pocketed health care investor.

    Richard P. Malloch is the president of Hearst Business Media, which is announcing a $75 million investment in M2Gen, the for-profit cancer informatics unit spun off by Tampa's Moffitt Cancer Center. Malloch's job is to find innovative investments for the Hearst family fortune. A substantial amount has been invested in health care, financial and the transportation and logistics industries.
  2. A boat lays on its side off the shore of Sainte-Anne on the French Caribbean island of Guadeloupe, early Tuesday, Sept. 19, 2017, after the passing of Hurricane Maria. [Dominique Chomereau-Lamotte | Associated Press]
  3. 7.1 magnitude quake kills at least 149, collapses buildings in Mexico

    World

    MEXICO CITY — A magnitude 7.1 earthquake stunned central Mexico on Tuesday, killing at least 149 people as buildings collapsed in plumes of dust. Thousands fled into the streets in panic, and many stayed to help rescue those trapped.

    A woman is lifted on a stretcher from of a building that collapsed during an earthquake in Mexico City, Tuesday, Sept. 19, 2017. [Rebecca Blackwell | Associated Press]
  4. FHP seeks semitrailer truck driver that left fiery wreck on I-75

    Accidents

    TAMPA — The Florida Highway Patrol is looking for the driver of a semitrailer truck that sped off from an Interstate 75 crash that left another car burning on Tuesday afternoon.

    Troopers were looking for the driver of a semitrailer truck that sped off from an accident scene on Interstate 75 in Tampa on Tuesday afternoon that caused a car to catch fire. [Courtesy of Florida Highway Patrol]
  5. Joe Maddon gets warm reception in return to the Trop

    The Heater

    ST. PETERSBURG — The night was arranged to honor former Rays manager Joe Maddon in his first visit back to the Trop, and the standing ovation from the bipartisan crowd and scoreboard video tribute seemed proper acknowledgments of his hefty role in the Rays' success during his nine-year stint.

    Chicago Cubs manager Joe Maddon (70) talks with reporters during a press conference before the start of the game between the Chicago Cubs and the Tampa Bay Rays at Tropicana Field in St. Petersburg, Fla. on Tuesday, Sept. 19, 2017.