I am a Geek for Dance Dance Revolution

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DDR Supernova Arcade cabinet
My name is Jamie, I am a geek for Dance Dance Revolution.  I began playing in the summer of 1999 with my best friend Andrew.  We would go to the mall and dance for hours until I felt like I had to puke up Baja Fresh quesadillas.  He taught me the game; I pushed him to always reach the next level, and he pulled me along with him.  Years later, we began teaching others, creating our own training programs, and sharing our avid DDR interest with the growing player community.

          My favorite music selection is The Least 100sec, and my favorite step is either Holic on Single, Maniac, Shuffle or Rhythm and Police on Doubles, Maniac.


What is DDR?

Children's xylophone with mallet

          DDR is a skill and endurance game, measured by high score.

          DDR is a percussive game played with two feet.  Imagine a child’s xylophone with four bars, and you are provided two mallets to strike the bars.  Only in this game, the four bars are arrows and the two mallets are the soles of your two feet.

          DDR is an exercise in interpreting organized rhythm patterns as accurately as possible.  Imagine the classic military call-and-response march: “I don’t know but I been told” “I don’t know but I been told” combined with karaoke and the light-up button game Simon Says.  In call and response, you are supplied words with melodic rhythm [and pitch, to an extent], to repeat with precision.  In karaoke, you are supplied words and musical accompaniment, and your task is to recreate a known melody that is rated on strict obedience to pitch [and rhythm, to an extent].  DDR combines these ideas by providing a musical framework (like karaoke) with a set of melodic instructions (like call and response, or Simon Says) to perform with rhythmic and melodic accuracy (referring to the sequence of arrows as a melody).

Simon Says

How is she played?

Playing DDR is like playing any controller-based game.  You strike a button, and you get a reaction.  A game controller will produce an on-screen reaction, a different reaction for each button you strike.  You strike a DDR arrow, you get immediate on-screen feedback, as a score.  Striking the wrong arrow panel will get you a MISS, while striking the correct panel will give you a rating, based on how rhythmically accurate your strike is in the context of the song playing.  Playing too slowly or too quickly will negatively affect your score.

The four arrows of a DDR pad are mapped like the four points of a compass.  Your body is centered in the square inside the four directional arrows, the center of your compass.  The arrow pointing in front of you, or north, is Up.

            The classic DDR game offers only these four arrows.  If DDR offered you only one mallet to strike with, this would be the scope of its melodic potential.  But because you are blessed with two feet, DDR challenges you at times strike two arrows at once, which most people call a Jump, though DDR seems to prefer to refer to this as Air.  I will call each of these a Jump.

            It’s easier to demonstrate the various Jumps using the compass, which is why I’ve included it here.  Combine any two directions and you have a Jump.  N+W, N+E, S+W, S+E, N+S, W+E.

These are the 4 arrows and 6 Jumps.

            Instructions may include any among the 4 single-arrow strikes and 6 double-arrow Jump strikes, making a total of 10 variations to recognize and respond to in the arrow sequences provided with any song.  Single-play DDR is built upon these 10 arrow variations.  Think of this as a language with only 10 words.  To master the game is to recognize and speak the 10 words in any sequence.  As the game progresses the 10 words are fashioned into longer and more uncommon sentences, and your task is to be able to speak them at increasing paces without error.  As long as you know that any word can be repeated or followed by any other word, you can train yourself to have the faculty to sight-read this language to its greatest possible complexity.

A ten word language

6 replies
  1. Nate Morse
    Nate Morse says:

    DDR is good times. I used to play it all the time at the movie theater in the next town, because that was the closest arcade version. I also had a friend that had one of the dance pads, so whenever I visited his place for the weekend, I would dance until the wee hours of the morning. In front of a small television. Usually without pants. And an open dress shirt. Which, incidentally, is how one of his neighbours saw me when he was passing by the house walking his dog. I glanced out the window and saw him there staring up at me. A fat guy, shirt open, pants WHO KNOWS WHERE, dancing. I’m sure he’d never heard of DDR. To him, I was just some crazy dude dancing.

    Good times. And true story.

  2. Charlotte
    Charlotte says:

    I must say the best time I played DDR was at Knott’s Berry Farm at the arcade. They have a full, large machine right outside of it. Jason and I started playing for a bit when we noticed we had a large crowd behind us. Being night time made it more fun and flashy. 

  3. Lish
    Lish says:

    As far as the arcade goes, I was RIDICULOUSLY bias towards DDR Extreme, as in, would seek them out and ignore the other machines, heh. I recently ordered a hard pad, and though I haven’t had the chance to use it much, it was totally worth the investment, especially since pretty soon here I’ll actually be able to start playing everyday. I’m so looking forward to it.

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