Tetris Skyscraper Philly Tech Week Cira Centre Building Game Spectacular. The spectacle kicked off a citywide series of events called Philly Tech Week. It also celebrated the upcoming 30th anniversary of a game revered as the epitome of elegance and simplicity, said Frank Lee, an associate professor of digital media at Drexel University.
Lee, a game designer who oversaw creation of the giant display, said putting it on an office building was like making a huge virtual campfire.
"This project began as a personal love letter to the games that I loved when I was a child - Pong last year, Tetris this year. But it ended up as a way of uniting the city of Philadelphia," Lee told the crowd.
Lee already holds the Guinness World Record for the world's largest architectural video game display for playing Pong on one side of the Cira Centre last year. Pong, the granddaddy of all video games, is an electronic version of paddleball developed by Atari in 1972.
Tetris, created by Russian computer programmer Alexey Pajitnov in 1984, challenges players to rotate and arrange falling shapes into complete rows.
It became a global phenomenon in the late 1980s after game designer Henk Rogers, who had seen Tetris at a trade show in Las Vegas, acquired the rights and struck a deal to put it on Nintendo's original Game Boy.
Rogers, who was among the players on Saturday in Philadelphia, said he can't believe the longevity of Tetris, which decades later continues to mesmerize players on more than 30 platforms.
"If a game lasts a year, that's amazing," said Rogers, now managing director of The Tetris Co. "They usually go out of style very quickly."
Rogers said several new Tetris products and initiatives are planned for release around its June 6 anniversary. He declined to discuss details.