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Education students to practice their dance moves

April 3, 2008

Dance Dance Revolution (DDR) is a game, a social activity, a dance, performance platform, a workout and weight loss tool as well as a classroom and workplace activity. Its appeal stems from a variety of factors: the game’s challenges, the music, the movement, the workout and social interactions. Dance games are now found at home, arcades, fitness clubs, health centers, schools and workplaces.

DDR has been introduced into high school gym classes all around the country to meet students half way between their love of video games and the need for physical activity.

“The game is used in high school as a supplement to many other activities in a fitness unit,” Dean Culpepper of the health and human performance department said.

DDR was created in Japan in 1998. Since then, the game has become popular all around the world. As of this year, over 100 official versions, or mixes of DDR have been produced, with over 1,000 songs featured across the various versions. The game was released in America in 2001.

The game is typically played on a dance pad with four arrow panels: left, right, up, and down. Additional gameplay modes may utilize two four-panel pads side-by-side (doubles mode), or a single six-panel pad with additional arrows corresponding to the upper diagonals (solo mode). These panels are pressed using the player’s feet, in response to arrows that appear on the screen. The arrows are synchronized to the general rhythm or beat of a chosen song, and success is dependent on the player’s ability to time and position his or her steps accordingly, UWRF student and avid DDR player Luke Stickan said.

The game has been compared to a Stairmaster and to jogging. The objectives of the lessons for students are to quicken foot speed, increase coordination, practice competition, increase the chemical ability to use oxygen for optimal energy, gain muscle, increase self-esteem and enjoy participating in physical activity.

“DDR is used one day in my PE Techniques class for majors to learn the proper teaching progression for teaching in the public schools,” Culpepper said.

Many home versions of the game have a function to estimate calories burned, given a player’s weight. Also, players can use the “workout mode” to make a diary of calories burned playing DDR and any self-reported changes in the player’s weight.

“The game gets people moving around, so it is definitely worth looking into to,” Stickan said.

More video game makers are designing potential exercise games as well. X-Box came out with a game in 2004 called “Yourself Fitness,” used primarily as an interactive workout video. “Eye Toy Kinetic,” released in 2005, and designed with help from Nike fitness experts, used the Playstation 2’s camera to stage an interactive exercise session that puts arm-swinging and jumping into action on the player’s television and also counts calories burned. The maker of DDR, Konami, has now made a contract to feature the game in 24 Hour Fitness centers around the country.