Everyone knows the iconic game of Pong, the world's first blockbuster arcade game created by Atari in 1972 (and the game that every computer programming student re-creates at least once before graduation). But this week in Philadephia people were able to experience Pong in a completely new way; on the side the Philadephia Circa Centre, a 29-story office building.
"People care because it's Pong. Because Pong is a cultural milestone, and I mean that in that people who've never played Pong know Pong," Lee said. "Little kids know Pong. Grandmothers and grandfathers know Pong, and so on. It is part of our cultural fabric, because it was the first successful commercial video game that launched the multi-billion dollar industry that we have now."
The feat has taken computer science professor Frank Lee five years to complete, but most of that time was spent negotiating with the building's management team, not creating the code. The owners of the building didn't see the significance of creating a video game on the side of their office building, and shot Lee's ideas down repeatedly.
Lee was not deterred, and his luck changed when he met with organizers of Philly Tech Week, he says in an interview with Ars Technica. "When I first told [organizers] the idea they were all over it," said Lee, "and they were trying to reach out to everyone that they knew." Eventually they were able to win over the building managers (who delivered the IP addresses of every light used in the building), assemble the code to hack the light system and make it interactive, and transform the 437-foot tall building into the world's largest video game. With the success of this event, Frank Lee's team is already working on additional game titles for skyscrapers including Tetris, Snake, and Space Invaders.