Dance Dance Revolution Revolution


DDR: The universally known acronym. Dance Dance Revolution is truly original, which means a lot in this day and age. Like Tetris, it did not push the limits of graphics, game play, or even contain a plot line. But what it does do is provide the player with endless amounts of fun, which is what video games are essentially all about. Like Tetris, it deserves a spot in the video game canon because in spite of its simplicity, it has a huge culture surrounding it, it is novel it its concept, and the popularity of it is unprecedented. Everyone knows what it is, not just gamers and everyone can easily get into it, not just gamers.

It is important to know the history of DDR in order to fully appreciate it. It was developed and published by Konami in Japan in 1998. By the end of 1999, Konami’s annual net income had risen by 260%. In Japan at the time, arcades were a socially acceptable place to hang out or even take a date to. “Japanese culture is different, Japanese games are novel without even trying” (Liu). In Japan, video games were a culture as opposed to a subculture in the United States. In just a few short years, this would all change.

After it gained popularity in Japan, Konami of America decided to sell it in America in 2000. Originally, critics thought it was too exotic to catch on in America. The game had Japanese literally written all over it, flashing lights, loud music, and cost about fifteen to seventeen thousand dollars. Gamespot.com is cited as saying, “Obscure Japanese games like Dance Dance Revolution have little or no chance of coming out in the US, so import this one while you can” (Liu). It was so foreign and unusual, that arcade owners were reluctant to invest in it.

Before Dance Dance Revolution, arcades were plain. They had a set formula: Racing games, fighting games, and shooting games. Arcade owners were getting by with that philosophy, so seemingly there was no reason to change. Well, after some arcades in California experienced success with some new, exotic Japanese game called DDR, it quickly caught on and now just about every decent arcade has DDR (Liu). DDR revitalized the arcade industry

Because of the nature of DDR, a community has sprouted from it. The game is very conducive to sociality. There are countless competitions that draw many people, like the state-wide competition held in Honolulu each year (The Garden Island). There is also a subculture surrounding the game. It is very common to find groups of people congregated around a DDR machine in an arcade. There is even a dictionary full of DDR slang. An example of DDR slang is “Bar Hugger: One who refuses to let go of the bar and adamantly puts all their weight on the bar behind them throughout the whole song” (Ko). Not many video games can boast their own subculture and dictionary. DDR can, which makes it a viable candidate for the canon.

Another testament to its success is that there are so many versions of DDR like Dance Dance Revolution X, Dance Dance Revolution Super Nova 2, and Dance Dance Revolution Hottest Party 2. There are also countless spinoffs such as Stepmania, Just Dance, Dance Central, and Gold’s Gym Dance Workout. It has single-handedly brought the rhythm-music genre into the spotlight. It is the forerunner of games like Guitar Hero, Drummania, and Karaoke Revolution. It is safe to say that Dance Dance Revolution has inspired a generation of games like these.

A unique benefit of playing Dance Dance Revolution is that you can get in shape. Tanya Jessen, a college freshman in Seattle, lost 95 pounds in one year just by playing Dance Dance Revolution (Bonuses4poker). Even West Virginia public schools have incorporated it into their physical education routine. It also teaches people about rhythm. The New York Times estimates that over 1,500 schools use DDR today (Schiesel). It can act as an accessible introduction to music for young children and can also help adults work on keeping time. This is partly why it is so accepted by society: because it is not thought of as a videogame, in the common sense of the word. It’s played by all types of people, in all types of settings, and it’s more common to see friends bouncing up and down playing it than a lone gamer in a dark basement playing.

Dance Dance Revolution has sold over a million copies ever since its original release over a decade ago. It transcends the definition of ‘videogame’ and has the ability to bring people from all walks of life together in a way that no other video game can. Gamepro.com listed Dance Dance Revolution as the 31st most influential game of all time, one spot behind Zork (a canonized game), and eight spots ahead of Space War (another canonized game) (Fatt). What makes it novel is that it demands leg movement and not just finger movement. It is also novel because, on the console versions, players need to have a dance pad to play and that was the first time any accessory like that was sold for consoles. Even though players and arcade owners had to pay more, they did it because no game had ever had this much bang for the buck.

For such a simple game, it is amazing how complex the culture and benefits are. DDR is original, immensely popular, the basis for a subculture, and good for your health, which is why it should be selected for the video game canon. Like Tetris, it is timeless and will surely be around for years to come.

Works Cited: 

Bonuses4poker. "Woman Loses 95 Lbs Playing Video Games:Tanya Jessen & Red Octane Launch National Education Campaign to Motivate Americans to Get Up and Move! - DDR - Zimbio." Zimbio - Interactive Magazine. 15 Jan. 2011. Web. 30 Mar. 2011. .

Fatt, Boba. "The 52 Most Important Video Games of All Time (page 2 of 8), Page 2, Feature Story from GamePro." GamePro: Video Games, Video Game Reviews, Gaming News, Game Trailers, and Game Info for Gamers. 24 Apr. 2007. Web. 30 Mar. 2011. .

Ko, Jason. "DDR Freak - DDR Freak Dictionary." DDR Freak - Dance Dance Revolution. 2005. Web. 30 Feb. 2011. .

Liu, David. A Case History in the Success of Dance Dance Revolution in the United States. 18 Mar. 2002. Web. 2 Feb. 2011. .

"Menehune Win at State DDR Competition." The Garden Island. 3 Mar. 2011. Web. 30 Mar. 2011. .

Schiesel, Seth. "Dance Dance Revolution - Childhood Obesity - New York Times."
The New York Times - Breaking News, World News & Multimedia. 31 Mar. 2011. Web. 30 Apr. 2007. .

Image Credits: 

Picture courtesy of Conny Liegl, creative commons licensed.


pamplemousse, Thu, 2011-04-07 22:20

May I join your exhibit team?
: )

DeadLemonz, Mon, 2011-04-11 03:58

Sorry, I already called dibs.

Anonymous, Tue, 2011-04-12 01:32

it would be super rad if i could be in your group too, hahaha.

Loch's picture

Loch, Tue, 2011-04-12 01:33

i uh...realize i posted that message anonymously.

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