On Friday evening, Philadelphians were treated to a larger-than-life version of a gaming classic. The side of the Cira Cenre — a 29-story building lined with programmable lights — was turned into a massive Pong game, letting players control three-story-high paddles via a laptop. Dr. Frank Lee, the Drexel University professor who programmed the show, was inspired by seeing the Cira Centre's lights five years ago. "For whatever reason, I saw in my mind's eye... Tetris shapes outlined by those lights, falling and twisting and rotating," he told Polygon. To make the game work, he had to connect a port of Pong to the building's roughly 1,500 LEDs, using both the building's own light-show software and another program created to communicate with it.
Despite getting off to a rough start due to connectivity problems, the game apparently made a strong showing on April 19th, helping kick off Philly Tech Week. It's also set to come back on the 24th. Andrew Cunningham at Ars Technica, who made the video above, has written an excellent breakdown of Lee's five-year struggle to get the Cira Centre on board and build the game — and an account of what it feels like to actually play an over 400-foot-high game of Pong.