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Brute Force Goes Plus Sized

April 5, 2013

Yes, I’m a geek.  And this is way cool.

Seventies gaming classic ‘Pong’ will reach a hitherto undreamed of scale later in April, when a version of the game is launched for play on lights adorning a skyscraper.

The building in question is Philadelphia’s Cira Center, a 29-storey edifice opened in 2006. The building features a programmable array of 1500 light emitting diodes that attracted the attention of Frank Lee, co-founder and co-director of the Drexel Game Design Program, an outfit teaching degrees in game design.

When I was learning programming languages, I would often make my first real program a game, usually something like Breakout.  I could learn how to move things around the screen, react to environmental inputs (hitting something), add control, and then do conditional adders to speed up the game or put in other objects.  I taught myself two or three languages that way, all of which I believe are officially in the dustbin of history at this point.

But there’s always something exciting about seeing someone’s ability to brute-force a solution into a small programming space and get results, and the idea of a tournament is really neat.

Solving problems these days is usually not a finesse thing, though people view elegant code that grabs gigabytes of memory as fashionable.  Being able work with the programming equivalent of stone knives and bearskins is cool, and I hope to see more ideas like this.

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