'Dance, Dance Revolution' game gathers popularity and spectators
While some Yellow Jackets might still be playing Quake, a new form of video game entertainment has become the latest student addiction. With two gaming consoles in the Student Center Recreation Area and the ability to play the game at home, Dance, Dance Revolution's popularity has grown, not only a physically interactive video game, but even as a spectator sport.
Pat Reyes and Susie Rathmann say that they play the game daily in the Student Center; Reyes bought a dance pad so he can play at home. Nicknamed "DDR" by its aficionados, the dance game involves stepping on a console in time with music while a screen indicates dance steps players must take. Different levels of play can accommodate the two-left-footed to the disco dancing expert, with complexity and speed of dance moves increasing depending on the song difficulty selected.
"It's pretty addictive," said Reyes, who started playing in an arcade before Tech bought the game in January. Rathmann also started in another Atlanta area arcade. Since learning to play two months ago, she now plays from three to five games almost daily at the Student Center.
"[The game] is good exercise," said Rathmann. "I actually went to class one time [after playing], and my professor said that I looked like I just ran a marathon." Although she plays between classes, Rathmann has yet to resort to skipping class in favor of the dance game. Reyes joked that while they may not skip lectures for playing, they might sneak into class late after a between-classes dance-off.
While the line to play (and the watching crowd) grows during lunch hours with the Student Center crowds, Reyes and Rathmann have noticed that often the same players can be found dancing on a daily basis.
"I think a lot of people are afraid to try [playing]," said Reyes. While some students might be afraid of subjecting themselves to public dancing humiliation in the busy entrance to the Recreation Center, a second console in the back corner of the room might offer the curious and timid a chance to play without an audience. However, according to Rathmann, the second console takes four tokens per player, unlike the one in the front of the room, which takes four tokens (a total of 80 cents) for up to two players.
Still, both Reyes and Rathman found the game's concept easy to learn, although "there's a learning curve to it," said Reyes, much like learning any new game. The physical interaction adds another dimension of learning to the less coordinated.
"You just have to pay attention to the music," said Rathmann. "It's more like line dancing." Additionally, players can adjust the game so that two people can play simultaneously but at different skill levels.
According to one of the more popular DDR websites, DDR Freak (www.ddrfreak.com), players can find at least twelve game machines in Georgia, including one at the Mall of Georgia. California has 299 consoles, but even Alaska's one machine has garnered enough of a following to spur several websites for the Alaska DDR scene alone. DDR has fans worldwide; the DDR Freak site has a "machine locator" for Europe and Asia as well as the States.
"We're supposed to get Fifth Mix-most people have Third," said Rathmann, speaking on the possibility that Tech's arcade will soon include a newer console. As of yet, DDR Freak lists no Fifth Mix machines in Georgia.
DDR fans go as far as downloading the game's musical mixes and creating trick dance moves. Other players organize tournaments for DDR competition or attempt to set records for hours of continuous play.
Even for non-players, DDR can provide hours of spectator fun watching other students dance through their lunch breaks. According to Reyes and Rathmann, the largest crowds of both players and spectators gather between 11:00 a.m. and 4:00 p.m.