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A new video game revolution?

For years, I've watched the evolution of video games, thinking how they are mesmerizing our children and keeping them glued to the screen instead of getting some healthy exercise.

That is, until my college-age son came home for spring break and brought his "DDR" with him.

He said I was living an isolated life when I asked him, "What's DDR?"

It stands for Dance Dance Revolution, and it's a video game that's getting kids off the couch and onto their feet.

After he explained it, I remember seeing kids at the mall gathered around a sweating teenager on a platform who was moving his feet in time to some music.

What my son had was a smaller version of this new trend. He unrolled his plastic floor pad with internal sensors and plugged it into the video game box and the television. He then selected an animated character from a long roster, and chose a song and a skill level. Before long, his feet were moving in time to some fast paced music as he followed instructions from arrows scrolling down the left side of the screen.

Yes, it really did look like a dance, and the quicker the music played, the more I was impressed with Scott's ability to keep up. The computer seemed impressed, too, and made comments like "Good job," or "Perfect." The machine gave instantaneous feedback and kept score when Scott hit the right part of the floor pad at exactly the right time in rhythm with the arrows.

I tried the "dance" but with less than impressive results. Even at the lowest level, the commentary from the computer validated my own instincts that DDR was harder than it looks. The machine made snide comments when I missed, tempting me to pull the plug.

Despite some personality flaws in the program, this game is a great thing. In an age when childhood obesity is on the rise, a computer game comes out that actually causes kids to exercise.

This is one fad that isn't illegal, immoral or dangerous, and as an added bonus, it's healthy.

Few crazes in recent memory can claim to be so positive.

The Rubik's cube was fun and mind stretching, but it didn't do much for couch potatoes. About the same time, there was streaking -- running naked through a crowd. Then there was ugly "grunge" fashion which was far better than the unhealthy attachment to Cabbage Patch Kids that caused frenzied crowds to fight over the chubby faced dolls. It was almost like a clip from Wild Kingdom, with the fittest athlete in the crowd triumphantly holding the prize aloft as he left the toy store with the last of the ugly little dolls.

Lately, the hideous practice of multiple body piercing has captured the attention of America.

I prefer the new obsession with DDR.

Web posted on Wednesday, March 23, 2005


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