September 23, 2005

Down with DDR

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I think I may have been born without a vital gene – the gene for DDR. We just hooked up the Dance Dance Revolution in my house, and on its inaugural tournament my housemates exhibited the skill and ease with which they could dance to the anime lament or the strangely familiar flower power song. They pranced across the dance pad, hopping gracefully from left to right, fulfilling the persistent arrows demands that they jump on two spots at once. Watching my housemates do it, I thought, how hard could it be?

The answer? Very hard. Forget about moving my feet fast enough, I could not even process what the arrows were telling me! Having been one of those “no video games” kids when I was younger, I just don’t have the practice with reading digital directions that is necessary for success at DDR. A long stream of seemingly clear and simple directions was like reading hieroglyphics. The problem lies in the ability to always scan ahead while keeping an eye on the exact moment that the arrow crosses the bar, implying that by some sort of magic or sheer will power I am supposed to synchronize my steps with that precise occurrence. However, I do not have the ability to do both those things. This results in near fatal dance moves as I make desperate jolting attempts to reach each square in time.

To add to the problem, DDR has diagnosed my dyslexia. When the stream of arrows demands down down down down hold and down, I respond with up, up, shit! Down? Down, where’s down? This results in another never-ending stream of insults from the screen as the DDR audience boos me mercilessly, and then just to be cruel, says “almost” as if I really might get it next time. Why you gotta hate?

The only thing that gives me some comfort about my lacking DDR skills is that even when a person has achieved DDR excellence, it does not mean that he or she necessarily looks cool doing it. Sure, their feet move smoothly around the small square foot pad of fury, but they usually have a look of pained concentration and their arms look tortured as the fling their body from one side to the next and back again. There should be a style watcher on that game. That would knock those DDR debutantes off their high horse. Their technical skill would be no match for my ability to imitate the robotic movements of the characters that dance along with me on the screen. I promise you that if you break out what DDR claims is dancing at a party, you will look more like the Star Wars kid flinging himself around his bedroom as he fights invisible enemies with a curtain rod for a light saber than the smooth dancing machine that you want to be. Whereas, when I pull out the jagged triangular movements of the two monster characters, or the “hands out, pull it in, repeat” of the smoother urban characters, people will spontaneously applaud, just like they do on the game. So, Dance Dance Revolution, I just want you to know that you are not the measure of my worth as a person. Just because I may be incapable of meeting your high standards and demands doesn’t make me any less of a man, or woman for that matter. And just because I can’t stop playing you doesn’t mean you’ve won either.

Archived article by Becky Wolozin
Sun Staff Writer