Game Design Camps at Drexel: Home of the World’s Biggest ‘Pong’ Game

By Phill Powell

They’re crazy about video games at Drexel University. And they demonstrated that recently with what may or may not be the most intense game of Pong ever played. It certainly is the biggest.

It’s not everyday you play Pong on the side of a skyscraper. This 29-story Pong game helped kick off Philly Tech Week. (Watch the World’s Largest Pong Game.)

At 29 stories high (437 foot tall), the game is so large it had to be displayed on the side of Philadelphia’s Cira Centre building.

The game was the brainchild of Frank Lee, a scientist from Drexel University who spent five years planning his vision for what he calls the “grandest game of Pong on the planet.”

Tribute in Lights
Dr. Frank Lee serves as the director of Drexel’s Game Development program, and this Pong-on-steroids is his masterpiece. To pick the players that would beta-test it, Dr. Lee held a lottery.

Why did he pick Pong? Actually, he had originally wanted to create a massive version of another video-game classic,Tetris, but the graphics were too difficult to pull off.

Pong is a cultural icon. It was the first commercially successful video game—the game that launched an industry.

Dr. Frank Lee, Game Development Program, Drexel University

Instead, he opted to pay homage to Pong, the game that started it all. “Pong is a cultural icon,” said Dr. Lee. “It was the first commercially successful video game—the game that launched an industry.”

The event was undertaken to help launch the 2013 Philadelphia Science Festival and Philly Tech Week that took place in late April.

Using a controller he made specifically for the game, Dr. Frank Lee (left) takes on a lucky video gamer in a super-sized version of Pong.

There was a little something there for everyone, whether you were into live science shows (about laser cutting and 3D printing), discussions about space exploration, demonstrations of underwater robotics, science trivia challenges for teams, or the science of jazz (using technology to turn music into a multisensory event).

Discovering at Drexel
Into gaming? It’s a $30 billion industry that’s growing every day.

Game design camps at Drexel can show you how to create and design video games. These same camps will also challenge your imagination, too. And while learning how to make the next Pong, why not make a few new friends while hanging out on Drexel’s campus.

It shouldn’t surprise you to find out how plugged-in Philadelphia is. This is, after all, the city where Ben Franklin first proposed the idea of electricity in 1750. Philly Tech Week and giant games of Pong are just a couple of ways the city and local Drexel University take the subject of science and turn it into something fun that everyone can enjoy and learn from.