It's Your Game

It's Your Game
Dance with Intensity

Kyle Orland | 2 Aug 2005 12:06
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In preparing for my tournament entry, I knew that the song I chose would be key. I looked over reports from past tournaments and noticed that the chosen songs skewed heavily towards... you guessed it... Japanese pop music. Many of the entries were actually remixes of popular DDR songs (actual DDR songs were prohibited in the rather detailed rules). I knew that I probably couldn't compete with the old guard in this space, so I looked through my song collection for a candidate that was as different as possible while still being danceable. I settled on Sum 41's Pain for Pleasure, a short hard rock song with a good driving beat. I sent in my registration by email.

Next came actually making the entry. Over the span of a few weeks I developed a set of steps that slowly built itself up from a simple introduction to a high energy crescendo of activity, much like the song. I studied the steps for other DDR songs on sites like DDRFreak, looking for the patterns and styles that made some songs strong and others fall flat. I even consulted with some of my DDR-obsessed friends, asking them for constructive criticism of my half-formed entry.

Finally, after many hours of painstaking transcription and tedious tweaking, I had a complete file that I felt was good enough to compete. With days to go before the submission deadline, I was ready to put my entry out there for the world to see. But a funny thing happened on the way to the forum.

I didn't submit my entry.

Every day for almost an entire week I would come to my computer determined to put the final touches on my step files and send them off to the judges. Every day I would hesitate, until, finally, the entry deadline passed me by and my career as a step designer was officially over.

Why the hesitation? I think deep down I knew I wasn't ready to compete with my much more experienced Internet counterparts. Given my lack of experience, the idea of putting my creation out there on the Internet for public ridicule scared me to death. Sure, I knew the people who would see my entry were strangers who I would never have to see again, but the concept of parading my novice work as a professional entry made me feel... odd. It certainly gave me a much greater appreciation for the mod creators who confidently pitch their creations into the Internet ether every day.

But more than my irrational fear of Internet embarrassment, there was a much more irrational fear of Internet success. What if my entry was actually good enough to do well in the competition, earning praise and acceptance from my fellow Internet strangers? The pressure would be on to continue creating steps for other songs, adding my skills to the small and growing community of DWI fanatics that had gathered around this Web site. Of course there would be no one forcing me to do this, but I didn't trust my inner ego-centrist to let me walk away from something like this.

But I'm probably deluding myself a bit. It takes more than a few weeks plunking away at a keyboard to become an accomplished game designer, even when you're limited to a palette of four rhythmic arrows. When I consider the hours of effort it took me to create what was, in essence, a relatively simple text file, I think of the hours I didn't have to spend creating graphics, sounds, and other gameplay elements that go into even the simplest of games today. In the end, I didn't have the devotion or the determination necessary to even take the first step towards being a game creator.

In the end, I'd rather just dance.

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