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Philly buildings become giant 'Tetris' game

A professor from Drexel University turned Philadelphia skyscrapers into 29-story games of
A professor from Drexel University turned Philadelphia skyscrapers into 29-story games of "Tetris" this weekend.
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Game designers turned two Philadelphia buildings into "Tetris" games
  • The exhibit was part of Philly Tech Week
  • Drexel University game designer hopes event spurs game industry there

(CNN) -- The city lights of Philadelphia took on a whole new hue this weekend as two skyscrapers in the City of Brotherly Love became a 29-story video game.

Celebrating 30 years of "Tetris,"the Drexel University gaming department wired up the north and south faces of the Cira Centre and allowed people to play the tile-matching puzzle game. Hundreds braved chilly temperatures to control the colorful blocks as they tumbled down the side of the buildings.

The festivities were part of Philly Tech Week, a celebration of technology and innovation in and around Philadelphia. For last year's event, a giant game of Pong set the Guinness World Record for the "Largest Architectural Video Game Display."

Frank Lee, director of Drexel University's Entrepreneurial Game Studio, used the Cira Centre's own LED arrays to transform it into a fully interactive version of "Tetris." He hopes such exhibits encourage growth in the game industry in his area.

"I'm especially proud to help highlight the vibrant and innovative local, independent game companies in Philadelphia at the event," Lee said. "My hope is that some of these great startup game design companies will stay and grow in Philadelphia. I want to see Philadelphia become a mobile gaming hub, and I think an event like this is a way to get others to share my vision."

Philadelphia Mayor Michael Nutter and Henk Rogers, managing director of the Tetris Co., joined players as they used arcade-style controllers to play the game. More than 100 people were randomly selected from an online lottery to enjoy a hands-on experience.

"Have you ever seen square patterns in a wall, floor or building that look like 'Tetris' blocks? That's called the Tetris effect," explained Rogers. "'Tetris' on a building? That is a dream come true for the hundreds of millions of 'Tetris' players around the world."

"Tetris" is one of the top selling video games of all time, with the Game Boy version appearing at No. 6 in the "Guinness World Records 2014 Gamer's Edition." The game was also recently featured in the Sochi 2014 Paralympic Games closing ceremony, where "Tetris" pieces spelled out the phrase "I'm Possible" on the stadium floor.

Philly Tech Week continues through Saturday.

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