Educators across the United States are taking a new approach in the battle against childhood obesity by introducing Dance Dance Revolution into the physical education curriculum.
An article in the New York Times reports that “several hundred” schools in at least ten states are currently using the game as part of their P. E. programs, and current plans call for over 1500 schools to have it in place by the end of the decade.
According to both teachers and students, one of the main attractions of Dance Dance Revolution as a physical education tool is the fact that it deemphasizes the importance of team and skill-based sports, long-standing barriers to entry for many less physically-adept students. Chad Fenwick, who oversees physical education for the Los Angeles Unified School District, is quoted in the article as saying, “What you’re seeing is a move toward activities where you don’t need to be so great at catching and throwing and things like that, so we can appeal to a wider range of kids.”
Unlike most videogames, Dance Dance Revolution requires significant physical activity on the part of the player. Gamers stand on a large, four-position pad, and use their feet to step on pads in sync with arrows that scroll across the screen. As the game progresses, the arrow patterns become faster and more complex, leading to sweat-inducing frenzies of twisting, jumping and stomping.
Produced by Konami, Dance Dance Revolution was first released as a stand-up arcade system in 1998, and has since been released on most home consoles, including the PlayStation 2, the Xbox 360 and the Nintendo Wii.