There was a point in my life, not that long ago, when I played Dance Dance Revolution. Of course, that could mean a lot of things. For all you know my DDR career could have been nothing more than me jumping onto a pad one night at a senior girl’s place after having a couple of beers and nothing to lose.
The truth is, that was only my first time playing. And you know what? It was quite a bit of fun. After that, and for about six months, not a week went by in which I didn’t get my dance on. The only difference then was that I wasn’t playing with senior aged, casual gamers, but instead with hardcore DDR fans. They weren’t the best, but they ate up the entire series with gusto.
It has been six months since I stopped playing the game, having only once stepped on a pad in that time. I tried to make the most out of that one last play, but it was too late. There was no fun, no interest. I moved around the arrows like a robot, and after two songs, I knew it was over. I stepped off, put my shoes on, took my Guitar Hero controller, and left.
Yes, Guitar Hero. I had brought my copy of it to this event, the “DDR Rave” as it was called by the hosts, in order to see what their reaction to the game would be, and for the brief interval of time in which it was plugged in, it had quite an impact. The room was quickly split into two; those who were there to just hang out and have a little fun were hooked to the tune of Boston, and afterwards lined up to play a tune or two.
This of course caused the DDR players to kindly ask me to pack it up so they could get back to dancing. I politely obliged of course; I had no intention of ruining their event. I even tried joining in, of course that ended up being a failure. Still, I left for my room that night feeling as if I had just learned more about DDR, and the entire music/rhythm genre as a whole, than I had in all of those months landing freeze arrows to Kylie Minogue.
Make no mistake. DDR is not going away any time soon. With a TV show of sorts in the works, and pubic schools using it for phys-ed, the game is still the queen of the music genre. I don’t, however, think it will be in that position for much longer. It looks as if the game’s popularity in recent years was as much due to a good concept as it was smart marketing to the right niche at the right time. But that niche can only grow so large, and Konami is only doing so much with the series.
Meanwhile new and aggressive competitors are entering the market, one of which looks to be ready to take the entire genre to 11. As the next generation tries its best to attract more casual and non gamers, I think that music games are only going to get more popular, and if I’m right, then the people at the forefront will be a little company called Harmonix and their Magic Axe. Ladies and gentlemen, I present to you Chords and Kawaii: The State of the Music Genre.