Remember the days when video games were simple. It was you, the miniscule TV screen and a remote control. There were no high definition screens or graphics. Call of Duty and Halo were not even close to being in the works, and the concept of the games likely had not even crossed the minds of programmers in that day and age. However, these games, with Pong being one of the most popular did have something to offer through their simplicity- hours of entertainment in front of a TV that was previously not offered.
If you are in the Philadelphia, Pennsylvania area tonight, you will be treated to a royal exhibit when the largest game of Pong in world history will be played on the Cira Center, which is a 29-story building in the area. The designers of the game say that you can watch it from at least half of a mile away. This is truly incredible from the perspective that a game of pong can even be played on the side of skyscraper, but the thing that makes it even cooler is that most people who played the game when it first came out played on screens that are probably smaller than the computer monitors in the offices inside the Cira Center.
As you might expect, getting the game to work on the building was far from being a piece of cake. There were no HDMI or RCA cables to connect to a jack where the building would instantly light up like a modern television screen. Instead, the programmer, Frank Lee, a Professor at Drexel University, did some serious research into the way the lights were programmed for each floor.
From there, he had some serious programming work ahead of him to figure out how to assign a light number to different floors, so that the lights will serve as the paddles as well as the ball. So, rather than seeing a traditional ball go back and forth across a 13 inch TV screen, you will see the lights on the fifth floor come on, and go off when the “paddle,” or the tenth floor lights, for example go on to return the “serve.”
If you are in the Philly area tonight, you will definitely want to check this amazing display of art and computer programming out. If not, there is always YouTube tomorrow.