By Karina Ultreras
Before “Just Dance,” “Dance Central” or Zumba Fitness, there was “Dance Dance Revolution.” Created in Japan in 1998 by video game giant Konami, the game has become popular over time in arcades: with accompanying music, players match arrows shown on the screen by tapping their feet.
The Games Room Etc., located inside of Cal Poly Pomona’s Bronco Student Center, houses two DDR machines. Both are put to use every single day by a group of talented students who spend their time perfecting the art of DDR.
In the group is third-year mechanical engineer student Ryan Flynn, who recalled his first time trying out the video game back in fourth grade.
“My older cousin chose the video games to play, and she started playing DDR,” said Flynn. “I thought, ‘Oh wow, this is fun. You actually have to move your body to play.'”
Flynn is a daily visitor of the Games Room, and is specialized in a technique called “foot switching.” Although it may sound simple, higher difficulty levels prove otherwise.
“I was challenged and frustrated at first, but I got better,” said Flynn. “It became fulfilling to beat songs. It’s like acing a test.”
Fourth-year food science and nutrition student Roberto Redoble was introduced to DDR at 15 years old.
“I was immediately hooked,” said Redoble. “Once I became better at the game, I quit football and have been playing ever since. “
With 10 years of DDR experience, Redoble competes in tournaments and has ranked in the top eight in the last three national championships. In the Andamiro-produced game “Pump it Up” (which is similar to DDR, but with five panels), Redoble has officially been named the best in the West Coast.
For sixth-year biotechnology student Oscar Benitez, it wasn’t his choice to give DDR a try.
“My friend dared me to go on the machine,” said Benitez. “I started last spring quarter, and kept with it until the end of quarter.
“I like the challenges. It presumes not only physically, but mentally as well. I try to play everyday ” maybe an hour ” when I’m on campus.”
The Games Room Etc. attendants have witnessed a community of students develop because of DDR.
“[I] guarantee there’s someone [in] here for at least eight hours for DDR,” said Game Room attendant and fourth-year finance, real estate and law student Aaron Rivas. “It’s been in use all day. It’s pretty crazy.”
Redoble, Flynn, Benitez and others have made the Games Room Etc. their haven on campus.
“I’ve gotten in trouble several times for screaming, because I’m at that point where you can’t quit, but just have to let it out and move forward,” said Redoble.
There are players all over the world with a strong passion for DDR. Being an extremely physical video game, some participants prefer this workout instead of hitting the gym.
Benitez likes playing “Ghost ‘n’ Stuff” by Deadmau5 for serious workouts and “Gangnam Style” by PSY for fun.
“At the end of last spring quarter, I lost 20 pounds,” said Benitez. “I don’t think of it as a workout because it is fun. But, if it so happens to fall into the category, that’s cool too. The guys encouraged me to keep doing it.”
Many DDR machines allow the use of flash drives. Those who use DDR as a workout technique can track their records by inserting their flash drive into the machine. When a flash drive is taken out of the machine, it can tell a player how many calories he or she burned in a set.
“It is a work out, and you don’t even realize it,” said Redoble. “I’ve gotten a lot of people from lower [difficulty] levels to high [difficulty] levels in an extremely short amount of time. [I] also [got people] to lose a lot of weight.
“It is essentially like if you are on a treadmill for five minutes straight on the maximum speed, and you can’t stop. If you do, you fail.”
Something unique about DDR is the opportunity it gives players to be creative. Charts can be created to any song in an MP3 format.
“We have weird stuff like ‘Let it Go’ and ‘La Vida Loca,'” said Flynn.
According to Betty Ko, a graduate food science and nutrition student who plays DDR, players can easily get lost in the game.
“Hours can pass, and you can’t even tell,” said Ko. “I’m interested in the atmosphere and community, and it is just good vibes.”
The larger DDR community is generally close-knit, and the CPP group is no different. The group tried to start a club last quarter at CPP, but because deadlines conflicted with finals week, they did not find an advisor on time.
However, the anticipation to launch a CPP-recognized organization continues to grow. Around 60 students have shown interest for a DDR club to launch.
Until the organization kicks off, the group stays dedicated to the game and welcomes newcomers to their group.
“Every time I see a new face, I want to coach them and help them get better because I was there too at one point,” said Flynn.
“I hope the club takes off, because it is a bounding experience,” said Bentitez. “Even though you’re up there dancing by yourself, there are people behind you wanting you to do well.”
The group hopes to get the club established by next year. Future plans for the club include a CPP tournament and DDR lessons to those that are interested.
More information can be found on the DDR at Cal Poly Pomona Facebook page.
Monica Lopez / The Poly Post
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