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Posted on Wed, Jun. 19, 2002 story:PUB_DESC
Game Puts Twist on Dance

The Sun News

A revolution is taking over area game arcades.

"Dance Dance Revolution," a discolike game that tests coordination, is turning normal teens into zombielike addicts hogging the dance floor.

"My friends have to pull me off and say, 'You have to stop,' " 17-year-old Kate Fogg said last week at Broadway Louie's while reaching into a leather bag for more tokens.

"DDR," which started in Japan in 1998, has created a craze in the United States, spawning Web sites such as In the latest edition of Gamepro magazine, "DDR" ranked in the 2001 Reader's Choice poll as the third-best brain/reflex game.

Arcades are cashing in on the popularity. "DDR" is the top income earner of the 124 games at the Gay Dolphin Arcade and among the top at Broadway Louie's.

The game gives players, especially the good ones, an aerobic workout.

"It's a very physical game," said Mary Shelby, owner of the Gay Dolphin Arcade. "They are sweating when they finish."

"DDR's" allure is simple: it's fun, players say. And like the "Tekkens" and "Pac-Mans" of the past, it's hard to walk away - even harder to explain why.

"I have no clue," said Ryan Edwards, 16, who spends about $100 weekly on the game at Broadway Louie's.

Edwards is part of a group of teens that has made "DDR" one of Broadway Louie's most popular games. As many as 20 kids cluster around the machine nightly.

"They will stand there for hours and hours," bartender Kristine Kowaleski said. "They get addicted to it. They are in a daze when they do it."

Arriving before the usual customers last week, "DDR" newcomer Christine Hines, 18, hopped on the machine for a quick game.

"It's a little tricky," she said.

Sensing her struggle, 12-year-old Richard Gebo swoops in to help.

"How good am I?" he said, feeding four tokens into the machine. "You'll see in a minute."

Gebo has reason to be cocky. He rarely misses a step, and the machine feeds a dancer's ego, shouting "wow" and "you're too good" as Gebo racks up a perfect score.

"Want to see that again?" Gebo asks of the crowd that had gathered.

The trick, Gebo says, is to be light on your feet and never step back to the middle square. He enjoys the game because it tests his skills.

"I'm not the best," Gebo said, eyeing two brothers who jumped in after Gebo stepped down. "It's just fun."

The brothers, Ryan and Jason Edwards, spend hours daily working up a sweat to "DDR's" beats.

A few songs into the night, Ryan is stripping off a long-sleeved shirt while Jason gets ice water from the bar.

Fogg played the game so long one time, her too-tight sneakers ripped off the nail of her big toe. Don't worry: It's growing back, and she's still going on the game.

"My calves killed me the first time I did it," Fogg said. "You sweat a lot."

Tourist Judy Ursini, 50, first saw "DDR" at a Massachusetts mall, where she gave the players a couple of dollars to keep dancing. The game provides an aerobic workout and keeps kids out of trouble, she said.

"I love it," Ursini said while watching players at Broadway Louie's. "I couldn't stop watching the kids."

Sarah FormyDuval, 40, learned the game wasn't as easy as the teens made it look, returning to the bar after missing too many squares.

"It was not too understandable," said FormyDuval, of Whiteville, N.C. "But it was fun. We were just curious."

Contact DAWN BRYANT at 626-0296 or

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