Arcade Dance Games
Links Teen Cultures
Min Lee/ PNS
Dance Revolution (DDR) sweeping across many American arcades and
living rooms is becoming a showcase for young dance
glance, DDR looks like just another video game. But when someone
steps up to the platform and the music begins, you realize there’s a
lot more to it than just arrows and dancing.
brought video games into dance culture. That’s the revolutionary
part of the Dance Dance Revolution.
flash from the top of the machine, and music bumps from speakers at
the bottom of this walk-in arcade game. Arrows point in one of four
directions, scrolling up the screen until they align with arrows at
the top. At that moment, the dancer has to step on corresponding
arrows on the floor pad.
simple enough. Now imagine two arrows at the same time, then a
sequence of four making a circle, then a sequence of eight
alternating arrows. For the length of a song, more than a thousand
arrows scroll across the screen.
1998, DDR has been manufactured by the Japanese company Konami. The
game was wildly popular in Asia before it hit American shores. Now
the Internet is full of Web sites dedicated to DDR. One of the most
popular is ddrfreak.com, which tracks DDR arcade locations by state.
The site lists more than 500 arcades nationwide, with 217 in
spread to countries such as Canada, Mexico, the Philippines and the
arcades like Albany Bowl, the Bearcade in Berkeley and the Sony
Metreon in San Francisco, crowds of mostly teens and young adults
gather to watch the Dance Dance revolutionaries do their thing. Many
observers shadow the players’ moves, as if they were on the pad
tell when dancers are new to the game. Beginners are usually just
stepping and not really dancing. But after they know the steps, they
get creative. Combining dancing talent and game familiarity, a
select few graduate to creating their own styles. These are the
see people C-walking, breaking, raving, flipping and so on. Katie,
16, who plays once or twice a week, has seen stylers who “jump in
circles, or hit the pads with their knees. Times like that you’ll
have to look over people’s shoulders to see what’s going
who’s been playing DDR for two years, says, “After you finish the
game and everybody starts clapping, it’s like, ‘Damn, I’m hella
is how people usually get into this game. “It seems that more people
get interested as they see people do it,” says Ryan, 16. “I’ve seen
DDR around for about a year and it’s grown into a trend, or even
part of a culture. Competitions are being held, the machines are
popping up everywhere, prices are going up in some places, and more
people watch every time someone good plays.”
patrons of the game go to the arcades more than three times a week
to get their style down. Even people who own the game on Sony
Playstation or Sega Dreamcast keep visiting the arcades to show off
their new moves.
19, who plays two or three times a week, says DDR is so popular
because of its high energy. “It isn’t just sitting down and watching
a TVscreen — you have to move around.”
dancing and the upbeat music put DDR right into the center of teen
dance culture. It’s got techno, trance, rave, hip hop and many other
types of music in the different mixes. With more mixes emerging, DDR
is evolving into a culture.
interactive dance craze doesn’t look like it’s ending anytime soon.
Zeid, 18, a frequent DDR dancer, believes that “the whole dance
culture is gonna keep going, and DDR is part of that dance