In 2008, Drexel computer scientist Frank Lee imagined a new use for Cira's matrix of colored LED lights: a massive video game display. Now Dr. Lee is Director of Drexel University's game development program, and his "Grandest Game of Pong on the Planet" was the event that kicked off Philly Tech Week on Friday.
Players, chosen by lottery, gathered on the steps of the Philadelphia Museum of Art with a clear view of the 410-foot Cira Centre's north face. Lee initially envisioned Cira's lights for the more colorful Tetris. But he told The Inquirer that Pong is an example of "the pure primal elegance of game play and competition."
"The feedback I got was: 'Pong is kind of old. Why would people care?' That floored me. Pong is like a cultural icon. It was the first commercially successful video game - the game that launched an industry."
Lee also has a plan for 60,000 Eagles fans to play a game on the monitors at Lincoln Financial Field, and another in which all of Philadelphia could compete in a game based on "Invasion of the Body Snatchers."