HOME     |    ARTS & ENTERTAINMENT     |    CAMPUS     |     NEWS      |      RELIGION      |    PEOPLE     |    EXCLUSIVES

Archives    |    Scroll staff    |    Advertising rate card    |    BYU-I main    |    Email web-access    |    Dept. of communication     |    Daily Universe

Dance revolutionizes the way games are played

by Jenee Osterheldt
Knight Ridder Newspapers

Players try to keep their feet moving on the correct arrows while watching the dance pattern on the screen. The arcade game being played is Dance Dance Revolution, Aug. 17 in Kansas City, Mo. AP Photo Archive

KANSAS CITY — Forget the fascination with the eye-dazzling graphics of the Xbox and PlayStation 2.

Many sit-and-play video game addicts are getting up and out, heading for the nearest arcade to jump on the interactive rhythm game “Dance Dance Revolution.”

They have traded their tired fingers for crazy legs in an eye-ear-foot coordination technology challenge.

The video game-dance union started in Japan a few years ago and is turning America’s video gamers into a rhythm nation of sorts.

The DDR craze has ignited the creation of clubs everywhere, from California to a club in Kansas City known as DDRKC.

DDRKC is not a traditional club with meetings and officers and minutes and dues. This organization is strictly for the sport of rhythm games. At the meetings, gamers swap techniques while playing the games.

Ryan Edwards, a 27-year-old software engineer, founded DDRKC in April because he wanted to generate some interest in the area.

Edwards even owns his own DDR arcade machines in Play Central Station, an arcade in the suburb of Overland Park, Kan. DDRKC helps encourage new players and provides a forum to address local game issues, Edwards said.

“It generally adds to the following of such games in the U.S. and worldwide,” he said. “Besides, it’s more fun to play with friends than alone.”

DDR friends gather in groups as large as 20 every Thursday at Play Central Station to take turns playing and watching.

DDR is fun for the players, but to the spectator it looks as serious as a boxing match. There are three levels based on speed, beat and precision: basic, trick and maniac. Players keep a straight face and barely move their arms — it is all about precision with feet on arrows on beat for four songs straight.

It is hyper-aerobic. By the fourth and final song in a game, the dance maniac is wearing a sweat-soaked shirt. The first move they make as they step off the machine is toward the concession stand where they guzzle water so fast it gushes out of their mouths and down their chins.

“It’s incredibly fun and a great workout,” T.J. Vehlewald, 17, said. “I am in better shape than I used to be and before I started playing this. I sat around doing nothing.”

Bud Crittenden, a DDR maniac, and some of his co-workers at Sprint in Kansas City, Kan., enjoy a game of DDR during lunch breaks.

In addition to his lunch-hour fun, Crittenden said he comes out on Thursday nights for a little fun exercise that is cheaper than a membership at Bally’s.

“Since I’ve been doing it, I’ve been slowly losing weight, and I’m toning up,” Crittenden, 33, who has been playing for more than a year, said.

For others, the beat’s the thing.

“These games are fun because everybody likes music. It’s not like using a controller — it’s about using your body,” Duncan Oliver, a senior at Blue Valley Northwest in Overland Park, Kan, said. “It’s pretty addictive. People who like it should probably get the home version because once you start you’ll end up using lots of tokens,” Oliver, 17, said.

Each player gets four songs for $1, but eventually this adds up. Which is why many DDR fanatics have the home version of the game on PlayStation ($30). Some play with their fingers by controller, others buy the pad set ($50). A PC version is available as well, and some dance fiends even have the actual arcade version at home.

Jon Effertz, 15, got the actual arcade machine for his birthday earlier this summer.

“My mom sees it as really good exercise and it’s so much fun,” Effertz said. “My mom is actually getting good at it. The whole family plays, and it’s good entertainment for company.”

The next step for DDRKC freaks is competition.

“It seemed like you had to travel out farther west to get some solid competition, so we decided to hold our own tournaments here,” Vehlewald, a high school senior, said.

Tournaments are divided into technical and performance. Performance competition is about freestyle dancing — technical competition is based on precision.

“Competing in a tournament would be about seeing how I rank,” Drew Miller, a 21-year-old DDR freak, said. “There’s a challenge about it.”

“There really is no preparation for tournaments other than practice,” Effertz said. “The hardest part of the game is getting exactly on beat.”

All material posted on Scroll eNews is property of BYU-Idaho Scroll.
mailto:scrollinternet@byui.eduwith comments or problems.