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Pong on a skyscraper – Philadelphia set to supersize the classic game

pongPong – the Atari game that marked the start of the video game era when it first appeared in all its minimalist glory back in the early 1970s – is coming to Philadelphia in a big way this month.

To open and close the city’s Philly Tech Week, Drexel University Gaming Professor Dr. Frank Lee is set to host a Pong tournament using the grid of LED lights covering the north face of the 29-story, 437-foot-tall Cira Centre building, making it quite possibly the largest video game screen on the planet. Pong_PosterLee and his team have developed special software to control the lights to make Pong-on-a-skyscraper possible.

Tournament sessions will start at 8pm on April 19 and 24, with gamers located across the river using regular controllers to move the paddles. City residents and visitors are invited to enjoy the (somewhat gentle) action from the steps of the nearby Philadelphia Museum of Art.

Lee said he’s been thinking about how to get a game of Pong onto a skyscraper for the past five years.

“The idea for the project came to me when I was driving down I-76,” Lee explained in a video (below) about the project. “As the sun was going down, I saw the sparkly lights at the Cira Centre. In my mind, I saw Tetris shapes falling down. That was the genesis of trying to create a game using the Cira Centre lights.

“This idea has been living in my mind for such a long time that to see it actually out on the building is fantastic,” Lee said.

He added, “April 19 will be dedicated to Pong – a game that not just people in the gaming community know, but [one] that everyone knows. It’s a cultural milestone.”

If you’re going to be in the area on game days and fancy a go at controlling one of the giant paddles, throw your name in the hat here before April 19 (Friday). Winners will be notified by April 17.

[Main image: Wiki]

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