Before I begin, I would like to point out the versatility of the webpage medium. *
In addition to being able to use those little asterisks, you may also look to the left to see the menu bar. The menu bar is a "freeze" step from the sixth and seventh mixes of DDR. * The bars have an arrow at the beginning, an arrow at the end, and numbers in the middle. The arrow at the top corresponds to the top of this page, the arrow at the bottom to the bottom of this page, and the numbers are the individual sections in between. It will automatically move while you scroll this report up or down. Hover your mouse over any one of the numbers for a reminder of each section's name. For best results, view this webpage in Microsoft Internet Explorer.
On a personal note, I discovered Dance Dance Revolution through an online chatroom back in the year 2000. There were a group of people talking about songs they liked from DDR, and coincidentally, they were in California (the coincidence will be explained later.) I was interested in DDR because they kept talking about the songs that made it up. I hadn't even heard of the game before that day.
In the year 2002, during a vacation my family took in Florida, I encountered my first DDR machine at an arcade, and demanded to be brought back about every other day while we were in Florida. So that is, to say, I learned of the game from mouth first, but played it in an arcade next. From that day forth, I went out to buy a used Playstation One, some pads to play the game with, and obtained the DDR games themselves. Since playing, I have noticed a drop in visible chubbiness.. That is to say, I haven't lost scale-weight, but I definitely have gained leg-muscles.
After that summer, and purchasing the equipment, I started this college semester playing DDR about every day. I played approximately 10 minutes to an hour or more every day or so, and have watched my ability improve. When I began my DDR training in Florida, I was able to gain a passing grade on easy songs, which are around the realm of two or three 'feet' out of a possible nine foot *) difficulty. Since then, I am able to get an A on songs of 6-feet difficulty, and pass songs that are of up to 8-feet difficulty.
I have stated my personal history with DDR, and now, it is time to move onto the report.
Upon depositing credits for the game, the player presses his or her rectangle button. On the next screen, it asks whether the player wants to play by him/herself, versus another player, or wants to deposit two credits, and play using both pads on the arcade platform. They are called "Single," "Versus," and "Double," respectively. You use the two triangle buttons to select which mode, rectangle to select, and then you select your difficulty. *After selecting your difficulty with the rectangle key, you enter the song-select mode, and this is virtually the second part of three parts of playing DDR.
The player uses the left and right triangle buttons to change the song, and rectangle to select it. Various pieces of information is displayed in the song-select screen. Hereis an example screenshot from the PC DDR simulator, Dance with Intensity. However, in the song select mode, a player can do various things on the dance pad to affect gameplay. In new versions, the player can simply hold down the rectangle button while selecting his/her song, and recieve a variety of options, but in old versions, the player must enter codes by doing specific actions on the dance pad. * The actions affect gameplay in specific ways, but the most important one of these is the simplistic command of hitting the 'up' or 'down' direction, on the pad below you, two times in either way. Up makes it easier, and down makes it harder to specific degrees. These degrees have various translations in the United States and Japan, which you can discover by clicking here. So, now that you've selected your playing mode your difficulty, and your first song, what next? You 'do' the song, so to speak.
This is where the pad below your feet comes in. The whole reason DDR is so wildly popular is because, even though the game's basic idea is simplistic, the problem is that your feet aren't too versatile. The gameplay is based on the correspondence between the arrows on your pad and the arrows that are flashing at the top of your screen. When you press a button on the pad below you, the arrow you hit pulsates on-screen. When a song you've chosen begins, arrows scroll up from the bottom of the screen. These arrows scroll at a speed determined by the Beats per Minute of the song, and you have to hit the arrows on your pad when the arrows scrolling up on the screen overlap the floating ones. It becomes a challenge when you choose harder difficulties, and you discover that you can't hit all four buttons at once, can only hit two buttons at a time, and that there is an abundance of arrows to be hit! So, what you have to do is gain more leg balance and strength by playing the game so you can play harder songs in the challenging way they were meant to be played.
DDR was released in October of 1998 in Japan while another music-making game was very popular; BeatMania. This game has a turntable and a small keyboard-like button apparatus. (5 keys: 3 whites, 2 black.) Because BeatMania also used songs that were already on the market, Konami could also use those same ties to copyright laws to get permission to use other songs for their new game. At its inception, DDR had, on average, an hour-long line, and months after its release, this didn't wane. (Paragraph source: [DDR] History)
There also exists a "DDR Solo" version, where a player can use the typical pad of four buttons, or two additional new ones, that are in the up-left and up-right, respectively. Other games by Bemani, the name of the company under Konami that produces music games, are "Guitar Freaks," a game with a guitar-like controller, 5 buttons, and strings, or "Para Para Paradise", a game where you basically break on-screen panels with your hands to the music, with the use of infared sensors. All these games, including DDR, take songs ranging from 70's disco music (Such as Café by Disco Direct Sound), to modern pop music like "Oops, I Did It Again," albeit remixed and sung by a different artists than you're used to; Rochelle, in this instance.
After viewing the results, it's surprising to find that the number of people who were introduced by friends to DDR is equal to the number of people who discovered itself, not to mention how many people encountered it first in the arcades. Almost everybody who has DDR has bought DDR gaming accessories to play DDR elsewhere, after presumably their first arcade playing.. In addition, all the people who end up going to the websites, and are fans of the game, have proceeded past the beginner's level. It appears that if DDR is popular in other countries, it has not developed enough to cause people to visit websites like DDRFreak. In addition, anybody who has played DDR replied to this poll. Anyone who did not, did not submit answers to this poll. (See results to #3) Finally, I'd like to point out the fact that 92% of the people who have played DDR have experienced positive side effects from doing so. This brings me to my next topic.
In addition to people adding DDR to their list of exercise machines, a middle school featured on The Early Show on CBS (Source DDRFreak) had bought DDR Arcade machines in addition to new, fancy equipment. Comments from the article involve like one student who spends his lunch money on DDR instead, and has already dropped 15 pounds in a few weeks. The article pointed out that some students who weren't participating in Physical Education before, were now active, and hard to take off those machines. This same article pointed out that the school had to pay about $8,000 for each of the machines. However, another article (Source DDRFreak) from the Wall Street Journal stated that a arcade operator purchased a DDR machine in May for $25,000, and had already earned its price, and $15,000 over by the time the article was published in August of the same year.
It is likely that the purchase the school in CBS' article has made will be profitable. The article states that the game is free during the school day, and $0.25 per play after school. It is likely that such a machine will regain its original cost, too; the lunch-skipping student in said CBS article spent $5 each day on the machine. If it is guessed that there are 20 other students like him, that amounts to five-hundred dollars per week. If these students play for every day of the one-hundred eighty day school year, that amounts to $18,000; the cost of two of those machines, and $2,000 on top of that.
Schools are profiting, the once-dead arcades are being revitalized, and many introverted people are paying money to dance in public; a fear possibly greater than public speaking. What a dramatic effect this arcade game has had! Also, nobody has actually died from DDR to date.
Where else has DDR been? Well, thanks to the "Official 'OMG I SAW DDR' thread" *at DDRfreak.com * , there hav been DDR sightings in various TV shows. "King of the Hill" featured a game that was 'clearly' DDR, but was not called it. "Yu-Gi-Oh", another animated series (this one Japanese, however) featured a DDR that had arrows at every corner of the 9x9 square. Okay, so these two series aren't wildly popular. "Rugrats," however, a series so popular that it has prompted two movies from the children's TV network, Nickelodeon, had featured it in one of its episodes. Other shows DDR was listed as "being on" (sans the name, due to copyright issues) were Lizzie Maguire (Disney), Even Stevens (Disney), a vague appearance in The Daily Show on Comedy Central, a Primetime special about the game, a New York Times article discussing 100 great ideas, and is even reputed to be in a French movie, Wasabi! .. The forum had at least 4 more pages of data when I viewed it on Wed, Dec 7th, 2002. The list of places that DDR is popping up is increasing. A popular game, to say the least!
DDR is in many arcades worldwide, and you can discover one that's nearest to you by using DDRFreak's Machine Locator. It's mostly run by fans, and visitors to DDRFreak, so there is a chance that machines go unlisted. In addition to finding the nearest arcade with a DDR machine, it would be good advice to visit DDRFreak itself to find out tips on improving your abilities, and for mental shortcuts on how to get better grades. Since it's run by many pros and fans, it's definitely worth your time. You could also post on a DDR site's forum.
If you're interested in playing DDR at home first, before you get into any public situation which could embarass you, DDRFreak also runs a where to buy DDR page that could be a place to start. It lists the games for the United States, various locations to get home DDR pads, and where you can also buy the DDR soundtracks. However, almost all the home versions of DDR are for the Playstation.
However, there is a DDR simulator program at called Dance With Intensity.. AKA, DWI. If you purchase a Playstation DDR pad, and get a cheap USB cable (about $13, including shipping US), you could hook up your DDR home pad as a sort of computer game controller, and use it to play DWI. DWI allows for people to make their own songs for this DDR-like program, in addition to a lot of other features, such as changing the way the sound-select screen works, the person who is the announcer, and even your own steps for old DDR songs. The website that hosts this mirror site of DWI, DDRManiax, is another slightly popular DDR site, which features its own forum, info on DDR, and has a location where a person who wishes to play old DDR songs in DWI can go to. It has all the necessary files required for almost every song from every DDR mix/version.
Arcades, places that weren't typically hotbeds for social gatherings, are now places where even passerby will stop to watch some gamers (Specifically DDR players) dance their hearts out, and perhaps feel something inside themselves pushing them towards the machine. Profits are rising, with demand for this game, too. That gets the network and advertising bigwigs' attention, most definitely.
In the end, what is really happening here is that people are joining together again for something that benefits their health. They meet each other at local arcades, decide to make some sort of online webpage about how much they love this game, and are promptly joined by others. Communities grow, and this is yet another way to create them. I have never personally desired to visit an arcade, but with DDR there, it makes my visit the more likely. Hey, maybe I'll be the best player there this time.