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Tetris takes over tower block.
Damian Carrington. BBC News Online. April 19, 2000.

This story is also online here - with photos

The world's largest game of Tetris is currently dropping its frustrating electronic blocks down 10 storeys of a university building in the US.

A student group at Brown University converted their Science Library into a giant video game screen by installing over 10,000 Christmas lights in the windows.

Also needed were 11 custom-built circuit boards, a data network running through the tower and a personal computer running Linux. The result is a game that can be played by bystanders and seen for several miles.

The group, Tech House, says it is currently the world's largest fully functional Tetris game. The current record holder according to the Guinness Book of World Records is a Dutch effort that lit up 15 floors at Delft University in 1995.

Hallucination inspiration

La Bastille cost less than $900 but took five months of planning, construction and installation. It will operate until 21 April with a live band accompanying the players with Tetris music.

Unfortunately, the giant screen does not make the game any easier. Soren Spies, Tech House's Projects Manager, told BBC News Online: "The game was originally difficult to play because the response to user input was rather poor.

"But we sped things up and it is now fairly easy to play, though occasionally people are overcome with awe and excitement and have trouble doing the right thing."

Long-time Tech House member Keith Dreibelbis first came up with the idea for the project.

He said: "The concept mainly has to do with hallucination from excessive video gaming.

"For anyone who has ever played way too much Tetris, and looked at squareish buildings, it is easy to start hallucinating Tetris blocks in them."

Tech House call La Bastille an art installation and explaining what it means, Mr Dreibelbis said: "There are three ways to look at it. If you want a philosophical take on it, you can say that actually putting the game on the science library is a little nod to video game addicts everywhere.

"If you want a more technical take on it, it's a challenge in hardware, software and resource management. Finally, if you want a more geeky take on it, it's a hack."

The Dutch game was also built by students, from the Electrical Engineering department at Delft University of Technology.

It was displayed on 15 floors of a 96-metre tall building and used 3.5 kilometres of cable and 400 lights. Internet users could play the game through a telnet session.

© 2000 BBC



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