In Philadelphia, Atari's Pong goes big, big, big screen

Frank Lee, a professor at Drexel University in Philadelphia, is staging perhaps the biggest-screen version of Pong in history. 

Drexel
Frank Lee, a professor at Drexel’s College of Engineering, uses the side of the Cira Centre in Philadelphia for a giant game of Pong.

The Cira Centre, a 437-foot high-rise, sits in the University City section of Philadelphia, not far from the Schuylkill River

It is one of the most recognizable features on the Philly skyline. And on April 19 and 24, it will be the site of perhaps the largest game of Pong ever played. According to a press release from Drexel University, in two weeks time, Frank Lee, a Drexel professor and co-founder of the Drexel Game Design Program, will use LED lighting to turn the 83,360-square-foot, north-facing wall of the Cira Centre into a gigantic arcade screen. 

Participants, each of whom will hold large, plastic arcade-style controllers, will stand hundreds of feet below, on the steps of the nearby Philadelphia Art Museum. 

"This is something I’ve been envisioning for quite a while," Lee said in the Drexel press release. "Not only is this something that’s just fun for anyone who’s ever played a video game, but it’s also a uniquely interactive art installation. One of the main goals of this event is to inspire wonder and creativity in anyone who sees it, especially kids." 

In a separate interview with the Associated Press, Lee called the installation a "love letter to the wonders of technology as seen through the eyes of my childhood."

It's unclear exactly how participants will be selected, but if you're in the Philly area, it may be worth making your way over to the museum on the 19th and 24th, if only to take in the sights. 

In related news, back in November, Atari celebrated the 40th anniversary of Pong with the release of an OS app called Pong World. The software was the product of the Indie Developer Challenge, which encouraged amateur and professional developers to re-imagine the old classic. The game received some less than rave reviews, but we've played it, and we'd argue it's not half bad – especially for an app that won't cost you a cent

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