VIDEO, GIFs: World’s Largest Tetris in Philadelphia


The first thing I saw after arriving at the end of the Ben Franklin Parkway was a man in a Tetris costume being interviewed by a camera crew. The second thing I saw were a bunch of teenagers singing the Game Boy Tetris theme a capella. I didn’t know this was going to be such a big deal, but it was Tetris. On a skyscraper.

Yes, people played Tetris on the side of the Cira Centre as the kickoff to Philly Tech Week, and it was pretty darn cool.

I went to see Pong played on the Cira Centre last year, and it had nowhere near the crowd this year’s did. Last year I remember freezing with a few other people, hoping the rain would hold off, watching a few rounds of uninspiring Pong play. But Tetris! What a great game. I can’t see any type of tiling without mentally positioning them into Tetris-shaped blocks; you just don’t do this with Pong. And so there were hundreds and hundreds of people eating from food trucks at The Oval and watching people play Tetris — as well as other games, including a giant, light-up version of Connect 4.

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ThinkFest Snapshot: Video Game Designer Frank Lee

We’re rounding up the reasons Philly Mag readers should not miss ThinkFest, our week-long event connecting the brightest minds and most innovative ideas in Philadelphia. 

Drexel's Dr. Frank LeeDrexel University has a keeper in associate professor Frank Lee. Not only does Lee teach in the digital media program at Drexel’s Westphal College of Media Arts and Design, he is also the co-founder and co-director of the Drexel Game Design Program, which has been named among the top 10 game design programs by The Princeton Review.

Lee created the program because he wanted to make the best game design program in the world, and although he says we are not quite there yet, his efforts to become the best continue: This year, Lee was named Hacker of the Year and awarded Geek Story of the Year at the 3rd annual Philadelphia Geek Awards for his project “Pong on the Cira Centre,” or as Lee calls it, “World’s Biggest Pong” (video below). He also founded the Entrepreneurial Game Studio, which helps Drexel students create their own gaming companies, in hopes of expanding the video game industry in Philadelphia.

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Philadelphians: Prepare for a Truly Epic Game of Pong

Not beer pong, you alcohol-obsessed people! 70s-style electro paddle pong. Which makes sense, because the occasion for the giant game is Philly Tech Week, taking place in late April. Here’s how the tournament will work: Register to play before April 12th (fewer than 100 admitted), then head to the Art Museum steps on April 19th and April 24th, where the game will be projected on the 437-foot Cira Centre, across the Schuylkill.

Frank Lee, a Drexel Professor who co-founded the school’s Game Design Program, is the brains behind the operation. Here’s a refresher course, for those of you who weren’t alive during the game’s sport’s heyday. (Being stoned and in college not a requisite for entry.)

Monopoly Makes Grave Error, Adds Cat Piece to Game

After an intense period of Facebook voting, the people have chosen. And they’ve chosen terribly. Monopoly, for the first time ever, decided to let the silly people have a say in how the game is played, letting them trade one piece for another. So the schlubby, wrinkled-pants-wearing cat-lady Monopoly fans of the world chimed in and replaced the almighty IRON with a whiny, irritable CAT. Here’s the cat being unveiled on the TODAY Show, looking super creepy.

And here are some sample Facebook comments from all the hard-core Monopoly fans following this.

You Can Buy Curt Schilling’s Model Airplanes

Curt Schilling’s 38 Studios is having a FIRE… (sale) of the “everything must go” persuasion. More than 2,100 lots will be auctioned off at the company’s Providence headquarters on Tuesday. Among the gems available are numerous items left behind by employees, like a “Green Monster” piñata, a caged animal, and model planes supposedly built by Curt Schilling. Would this make for a great episode of Storage Wars or the greatest episode of Storage Wars? The company’s computer animation equipment and other assets are also going to the highest bidder. A later auction will feature the intellectual property still owned by 38 Studios. [CBS 3]

Gay Video Gaming Gets a Boost

Known for bestselling titles like Sims, Battlefield and Madden NFL, Electronic Arts (EA) could change the way gamers think about LGBT-themed video games. The video game maker announced it would join next year’s GaymerCon in San Francisco. It’s the first-ever gaming and tech convention for the LGBT community and EA is the first mainstream mover and shaker to sign on.

“EA believes that to be truly innovative, you must be inclusive,” Ginger Maseda, EA’s head of global diversity and inclusion, said in a press statement. “We are proud to be a part of this event.”

GaymerCon has also teamed up with GLAAD for Spirit Day on Oct. 19, which encourages people to wear purple to support LGBT youth. GaymerCon is holding a contest to find out who can make the best video to help raise awareness for the event, as well as issues related to homophobia and bullying. Just share your story in video format to win top prizes, including a new Xbox 360 signed by the Xbox Live staff and free passes to GaymerCon 2013. The videos will be shared online and on Facebook.

Find out more about the contest, how you can submit a video and where to vote for your favorites:

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Tonight: Play Video Games and Win NHL ’13

Tonight at Drinker’s West (39th and Chestnut), Crossing Broad is hosting an NHL ’12 Tournament on Xbox 360. To play, arrive before 8 p.m. and enter. The winner takes home a copy of NHL ’13 which hits stores today.

An Adult Gamer Will Now Try to Convince You He’s Mainstream

I am 37 years old. I do not live with my parents. I have health insurance, a master’s degree and only occasionally eat cereal for dinner. And I am a gamer.

That last statement shouldn’t feel like such a bold thing to say these days, but for some reason it seems like admitting I own Star Wars bed sheets (which I don’t) or wear Spider-Man pajamas (not that I’d know but they aren’t sold in adult sizes anyway so why are you even wondering?). When I was a kid, video games were mostly played by my peers. You didn’t see many guys with fully cultivated facial hair in line for Dragon’s Lair at the local arcade, or grown-ups gathered around an Atari 2600 at a house party. It was incomprehensible to imagine video games rivaling Hollywood in terms of cultural impact or profits. Read more »

Q&A: Curt Schilling Talks Video Games, Game of Thrones and What It’s Like to Be the Best

Once upon a time, Philadelphians cheered a right-handed pitcher vying to be the ace of the Phillies. Then, he went 16-7 in the 1993 regular season. He was NLCS MVP and tossed a shutout of the Blue Jays in his storied Game 5 of the World Series. After he left for the far away lands of Arizona and Boston, tales of World Series victories and a bloody sock made Philly’s former ace a household name. Now, Curt Schilling is the founder and chairman of 38 Studios—an entertainment and IP creation company that released Kingdoms of Amalur: Reckoning for Playstation 3, Xbox 360 and PC last month. I caught up with him to talk about Reckoning and the transition from starting pitcher to video game mogul. Read more »

Guy in China Spends $16,000 on a Virtual Sword

For $16,000 you can buy 2,285 cheesesteaks. That’s worth three season tickets to the Phils on the tarp. It’s the equivalent of 5,233 happy hour drafts at the Dandelion. Or, it’s equal to the value of one virtual sword in a role playing video game that hasn’t even been released yet. A man in China dropped $16K on a sword in “Age of Wulin,” an online RPG created by a California company that is set to be released this spring. [NBC Philadelphia]

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