Drexel professor staged massive, record-setting game of Tetris on a Philly skyscraper

This past April, Drexel University’s associate professor of digital media Frank Lee staged an enormous game of Tetris across two sides of the Cira Centre skyscraper in Philadelphia. Today the university announced that the Guinness World Records have confirmed it as the world’s “Largest Architectural Video Game Display.”

While hardly the first time anyone has used a building’s windows as pixels for Tetris, professor Lee’s game is by far the largest, utilizing 460 colored LEDs on each side of the 29-story skyscraper to create two 20×23 pixel screens. Competing teams played from Drexel’s campus and outside the Philadelphia Museum of Art, nearly two miles away, setting a new standard for what “local” gameplay can mean. When one side cleared a line, the other would be bombarded with new material. More than 2,500 people spectated the event, including Henk Rogers, managing director of The Tetris Company, who joined the festivities to honor the game on the impending 30th anniversary of its initial release.

There were no hard feelings about the record transfer, though, because the previous holder was in fact professor Lee himself, who set the prior record last year with a huge game of Pong on the very same building. The Tetris record was able to blow his earlier effort out of the water by utilizing two sides of the building instead of just one. The LEDs had been installed in 2005 to light the building with colors in celebration of various sports teams, holidays, and awareness months, much like the top of the Empire State Building has done since 1976 (and since 2012 with similar LEDs).

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