Eric Albuen’s favorite: Dance Dance Revolution

August 26, 2012

In the My Favorite Game series, get to know us better as staff writers share the game they love most and why.

At my absolute core, I’m an arcade gamer. I guess I’ve been lucky enough over the years to have one or two decent ones near me. Ever since 2000, it’s become an integrated part of my gaming life, and it probably explains why I almost never get any console gaming done. Regardless, it was because of a gameplay preview on TechTV (remember that channel?) and a fateful trip to the Philippines soon after that I would introduce me to a game that would eventually mean more than just that to me.

From the get-go, I do realize Dance Dance Revolution might not be the most exciting or revolutionary (no pun intended) game out there. For years, DDR was just a fun game for me to play and an excuse to get exercise from time to time. I could be playing better games or even listening to better music, but somehow I kept crawling back to this game, playing the same songs and listening to the music that this game released over and over again. So I guess the bigger question is, why would I stick playing such a lame game for twelve years?

Easy. It was the friends I made along the way. They made the journey I’ve had with this game that much better.

Honorable Mention: beatmania IIDX: Had it not been for DDR, this choice probably never would’ve been on my list. Never have I played a game for so long and feel like I’ve been stuck in the same place for years. I wouldn’t have it any other way since I’m always being challenged by this gem from Konami.

It wasn’t until 2008 that this game started to have such a huge effect on me. I was out of high school, and after college classes, I didn’t really have anything better to do than go to the arcade and just play a couple of rounds for an hour. From there, piece by piece, I would meet people that would change my life for the better. One helped me get a job at said arcade (until it closed), one would take me on adventures that I never thought I would be taking just for the sake of video games and food, and one friend ended up being someone I would want to spend the rest of my life with. I wouldn’t trade any of the friends I’ve made through this game for anything.

DDR was more than just a game. It was never about the music, the gameplay or even the graphics. Nothing about the series has ever made it a “must-have” game. It’s more that it brings people together in a social setting. It connects people with one common bond and helps flourish on other interests that you might not have known had it not been for that one connection. It brings out a competitive spirit amongst one another and you strive to get better.

Honorable Mention: DJMax Technika: This game has had a much shorter life than any music game I’ve mentioned, but much like DDR it helped me meet more people that have changed my life for the better. Plus, touch-screen arcade games are awesome.

These days, the only gaming communities I see that have that kind of connection are fighters and first-person shooters. With those two, the experience of meeting someone in a social setting is destroyed by online play. The simple fact that DDR still has a really strong arcade presence, even after all these years, makes a huge impact. I hang out with my friends outside of the arcade regularly, but the game itself is still a good excuse for us to go back and play a couple of songs until we realize that we might be getting a little too out of shape for the game.

We’re a lot less hardcore about the game now, but I still play it for fun, trying to rack up a perfect score on the side and just play against the friends I gained through it.

Compared to the rest of the staff’s choices (the rest of which you’ll be reading in the upcoming weeks), I’ll fully admit that I might have the most average, if not lamest, favorite game out of the whole staff. But if I had to choose a game that had amazing graphics and a story or a game that would shape my life for years, then I would choose the lame game in a heartbeat. Games will age over time and be forgotten and we all eventually move on from them. The friends that you make from the games you played are invaluable.