MIT hackers craft building-sized Tetris game

As one of America’s most prestigious universities, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology is regarded as a metaphorical cocoon where young minds hone their interests in engineering and technology and emerge after years of hard work as some kind of super-smart butterfly creature that only makes this metaphor sensible if you don’t actually think about it too hard.

Of course, these being college kids, their time at MIT isn’t exclusively spent hitting the books, eating ramen by the truckload and making embarrassing passes at one another. They also find time to engage in shenanigans. College kids love shenanigans, but when said college kids are the country’s finest, most industrious geeks, their hijinks go way beyond typical panty raids and drawing obscene imagery on anyone foolish or inebriated enough to fall asleep in the presence of other people.

Case in point: Last Friday, April 20, a group of unnamed hackers hijacked the lighting controls for MIT’s 21-storey, 290-foot-tall Green Building, and used their new found powers of illumination to play a gigantic game of Tetris on the side of the structure.

Interestingly, MIT has such a long, storied history of pranks like this that the school has an official site on its .edu domain chronicling its students’ exploits. The Tetris hack, despite being less than a week old, already has its own entry, complete with pictures and a description that describes the effort as “the Holy Grail of hacks.”

Pictures are nice, but if you want to really grasp the scope of what these students accomplished, you absolutely must watch the video embedded below.  The most impressive bit of this whole thing is how surprisingly “fluid” the game is in action. We’re almost positive that when the Green Building was constructed in 1964, its creators never intended for it to serve as the canvas for a giant Russian-made puzzle game, and yet the hack is far more functional than many of the Tetris ports released for major gaming systems throughout the 1990s.

We tip our hats to these anonymous MIT students not only for pulling off a prank of this scope, but also for having the foresight to come up with a gag that would have such broad appeal here on the ‘net. Any functional game plastered across the facade of a building like this would have drawn the attention of sites like ours, but in choosing the iconic Tetris, the pranksters ensured that even cynical members of the boomer generation who routinely sneer at anything to do with gaming have to grin and offer due propers.

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