Giant Pong Game Played on the Side of a Building

Watch a giant ‘Pong’ game played on the side of a 29-story building

On Friday evening, Philadelphians were treated to a larger-than-life version of a gaming classic. The side of the Cira Cenre — a 29-story building lined with programmable lights — was turned into a massive Pong game, letting players control three-story-high paddles via a laptop. Dr. Frank Lee, the Drexel University professor who programmed the show, was inspired by seeing the Cira Centre’s lights five years ago. "For whatever reason, I saw in my mind’s eye… Tetrisshapes outlined by those lights, falling and twisting and rotating," he told Polygon. To make the game work, he had to connect a port of Pong to the building’s roughly 1,500 LEDs, using both the building’s own light-show software and another program created to communicate with it.

Despite getting off to a rough start due to connectivity problems, the game apparently made a strong showing on April 19th, helping kick off Philly Tech Week. It’s also set to come back on the 24th. Andrew Cunningham at Ars Technica, who made the video above, has written an excellent breakdown of Lee’s five-year struggle to get the Cira Centre on board and build the game — and an account of what it feels like to actually play an over 400-foot-high game of Pong.

Over $100 Million Pledged to Games on Kickstarter

On Kickstarter, Michael McGregor  writes this on March 21, 2012:

…. we would share an exciting stat: more than $100 million has been pledged to Games projects on Kickstarter, giving 1,476 new games the green light!

Games Category Stats

  • Total Dollars: $107.6 Million
  • Successful projects: 1,476
  • Total Backers: 633,242

In the past four years, more than 633,242 backers have pledged to more than 4,500 Games projects, nearly 1,000 of them in the past year alone. After the launch of Double Fine Adventure in February 2012, things really took off:

Dollars Pledged to Games

  • 2009: $60,601
  • 2010: $546,362
  • 2011: $3,855,692 
  • 2012: $83,144,565
  • 2013: $22,423,264 (to date)

For a good illustration of how times have changed, look at creator Adam Poots, who raised $1,741 from 28 backers for his Kingdom Death miniatures project in 2009, becoming one of the first successful projects on Kickstarter. In 2012, Adam launched another set of Kingdom Death miniatures, raising more than $2 million.

Even better than the amazing sums projects are raising? The games they’re producing. To celebrate this $100 million milestone, we polled the Kickstarter staff to come up with the ten favorite Kickstarter-funded video games and tabletop games we’ve been playing over the past few years, along with links for where to play or buy. We hope you enjoy!

10 Kickstarter-funded Video Games you can play right now (in no particular order)

  • FTL (Faster than Light) (2013 IGF Finalist), a space simulator aimed at recreating the feeling of cruising through the galaxy in a spaceship.                             
  • Kentucky Route Zero (2013 IGF Finalist), a magical realist adventure game set on a secret highway in Kentucky.                                                                                                          
  • Organ Trail (at PAX in the Indie Megabooth), a zombie apocalypse parody of the classic Oregon Trail.                                                                                              
  • Blindside (2012 IndieCade Finalist), a survival/horror adventure game with no graphics at all.
  • Guns of Icarus (at PAX in the Indie Megabooth). You are the captain of a steampunk airship in this post-apocalyptic MMO.
  • God of Blades (at Kickstarter Arcade), a sword-and-sorcery saga RPG for iOS.
  • Giana Sisters: Twisted Dreams, the 25th anniversary edition of this classic where you jump, dash and twist through a warped dimension. 
  • Strike Suit Zero (at Kickstarter Arcade), a fast and frantic space combat game for PC.
  • Cognition: An Erica Reed Thriller,  a supernatural adventure game where you play an FBI agent on the hunt for a serial killer.
  • Zombies Run, an immersive mobile game where you help rebuild civilization after a zombie apocalypse.
  • Sidius Nova, a combination of turn-based and real-time space strategy.

10 Kickstarter-funded Tabletop Games you can play right now (in no particular order)

  • Miskatonic School for Girls, the first deck-building game where you get to build your opponent’s deck.
  • Sentinels of the Multiverse, an award-winning cooperative comic-book-themed card game.
  • Mobile Frame Zero, Lego mechs battling for control of your table.
  • Cards Against Humanity (at Kickstarter Arcade), a party game for horrible people.
  • Everything is Dolphins, an old-school RPG clone in which you play a dolphin instead of a dwarf, elf or human.
  • Zombicide, a zombie survival game featuring 71 amazing miniatures.
  • Tammany Hall, determine who really rules New York City in this boardgame about 19th century politics.
  • Unexploded Cow, a new board game by Cheap Ass Games creator James Earnest.
  • Gunship, dice, cards and boards collide in this tactical space combat game.
  • Ghost Pirates (at Kickstarter Arcade), a board game of ship-to-ship tactical action.

Thanks so much to all of the creators and backers and the incredible gaming community that has made these projects happen. We hope to see many of you this weekend at PAX East!

For One Monopoly Token, the Days Are Numbered

From the NYTimes


The original version of Monopoly has eight game pieces. The game's manufacturer plans to replace one of them.Courtesy of Hasbro The original version of Monopoly has eight game pieces. The game’s manufacturer plans to replace one of them.

Despite the onslaught of high-tech games played on smartphones, tablets and giant flat-screen televisions, some old-fashioned board games played at a more methodical pace endure. Of those, perhaps the most popular is Monopoly, which was born 78 years ago.

And even though there are any number of variations — a NASA edition, a New York Yankees edition, a Star Wars edition — the Monopoly of Park Place, Boardwalk and the Community Chest has remained largely unchanged.

Until now.

Hasbro, the company that manufactures Monopoly, has decided that the journey around the board for one of the eight classic tokens will end soon. And, in a modern twist, it has taken to social media to seek input from the public. So after Tuesday, when voting closes, the thimble, car, boot, Scottie dog, battleship, hat, iron or wheelbarrow will go to jail, forever, and a new token will take its place.

Of course, the company is not leaving it entirely up to the public to decide such an important part of a classic game. Hasbro came up with a list of potential replacements, conducted an internal vote and narrowed the field to five finalists: a robot, diamond ring, cat, helicopter and guitar. The classic token with the fewest number of votes will be replaced by the new token with the highest number. The winner is to be announced on Wednesday.

As of Monday afternoon, the boot and the iron had the fewest votes and were most in danger of being replaced. Hasbro would not say which of the new pieces had the most votes.

“The token is key to the game and key for all of our fans,’’ said Jonathan Berkowitz, the vice president for marketing at Hasbro Gaming, in a telephone interview from the company’s headquarters in Pawtucket, R.I. “You ask anyone what their favorite Monopoly token is and most people have an answer. There’s always a reason.”

The creation of Monopoly is widely attributed to Charles Darrow, an unemployed heating contractor from Philadelphia, though there were earlier versions of a similar game. Darrow’s 1933 version named the properties after places in Atlantic City, which experienced a boom in the 1920s, before the Depression.

“Because it was a game and because games are entertaining and they’re fun, Atlantic City seemed to be the perfect partner to use for the property names,” said Philip E. Orbanes, the president of Winning Moves Games Inc., a game manufacturer. Mr. Orbanes has also written four books about Monopoly and has been a chief judge at the United States and world Monopoly championships.

In 1935, Parker Brothers negotiated and signed a contract in the Flatiron Building in Manhattan to acquire Monopoly from Darrow, Mr. Orbanes said. (Parker Brothers is now owned by Hasbro.)

“J.P. Morgan, the legendary financier, was the inspiration in 1936 for the styling of the little Monopoly man who today we call Mr. Monopoly,” he added.

Monopoly rose in popularity during the Depression. “Twenty-five percent of the work force was unemployed,” Mr. Orbanes said, “so playing Monopoly was an opportunity to vicariously feel rich.”

The game has remained essentially unchanged, which some say is part of its continued success. “When I played Monopoly as a kid,” Mr. Berkowitz, the Habro executive, said, “it’s exactly the same as when I play it now with my kids, and the same is true of my parents and that’s very, very rare, and I think that’s one of the great things about the brand.”

Mr. Orbanes said, “The main appeal of the game is not necessarily the charming equipment, but rather it’s the dynamic that takes place when you and I and our friends sit around the table and we start negotiating, deal-making, bantering, making decisions, seeing the results of the decisions we make.’’