Tetris Reborn—on Skyscraper's Side

Video game classic gets another go on a 29-story scale in Philly

By Polly Davis Doig,  Newser Staff

Posted Apr 6, 2014 6:59 AM CDT

(Newser) – Those who didn't fritter away a sufficient portion of their youth playing Tetris got a second chance last night—on the side of a Philadelphia skyscraper. A 29-story version of the classic video game debuted last night on the Cira Centre, and if you thought the experience would be exactly like your old Game Boy, alas: "It's much different playing on the side of building that's a half-mile away," says a 30-year-old fan taking a turn at the controls. "Everything's happening so quick." The stunt kicked off Philly Tech Week, notes the AP, ahead of the 30th anniversary of the game's release.

The plus-size take on the game was the brainchild of Drexel University professor and game designer Frank Lee, who last year brought the classic Pong to the side of the same building, notes Polygon. The Tetris effort uses two sides of the building, over the one used by Pong, 100,000 LED lights, and a budget of about $50,000. Players got between 60 and 90 seconds to avoid embarrassment on a really large scale. Technology, says Lee, has "made us isolated from each other." To counter that, he sought to "create a social experience, a social moment, that's shared by the entire city."

Frank Lee, right, a Drexel University game-design professor, and game designer Henk Rogers play Tetris on the 29-story Cira Centre in Philadelphia, Saturday, April 5, 2014,
Frank Lee, right, a Drexel University game-design professor, and game designer Henk Rogers play Tetris on the 29-story Cira Centre in Philadelphia, Saturday, April 5, 2014,   (AP Photo/ Joseph Kaczmarek)
Frank Lee, right, a Drexel University game-design professor, and game designer Henk Rogers play Tetris on the 29-story Cira Centre in Philadelphia, Saturday, April 5, 2014.
Frank Lee, right, a Drexel University game-design professor, and game designer Henk Rogers play Tetris on the 29-story Cira Centre in Philadelphia, Saturday, April 5, 2014.   (AP Photo/ Joseph Kaczmarek)
Tetris is played on the 29-story Cira Centre in Philadelphia, Saturday, April 5, 2014, using hundreds of LED lights embedded in its facade.
Tetris is played on the 29-story Cira Centre in Philadelphia, Saturday, April 5, 2014, using hundreds of LED lights embedded in its facade.   (AP Photo/ Joseph Kaczmarek)
Tetris is played on the 29-story Cira Centre in Philadelphia, Saturday, April 5, 2014, using hundreds of LED lights embedded in its glass facade.
Tetris is played on the 29-story Cira Centre in Philadelphia, Saturday, April 5, 2014, using hundreds of LED lights embedded in its glass facade.   (AP Photo/ Joseph Kaczmarek)
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