Video Game Makes Students Sweat

Video Game Makes Students Sweat

Nearly 75 South Lakes High School students have joined a club for players of Dance Dance Revolution.

Stephen Vargas' feet become a blur as he stomps, spins, steps and pivots along with the beat pumping from the speakers connected to his Playstation 2 video game console.

Vargas, 15, and his friends were dancing last week in the South Lakes High School cafeteria, taking turns at playing Dance Dance Revolution, a video game that requires its players to work up a sweat by performing dance steps along with hip-hop music.

"This video game actually makes you sweat," said Vargas, a sophomore at South Lakes. "Your parents can't tell you to stop playing it because it's a healthy activity."

Vargas is the president and co-founder of South Lakes' newest student organization, the Dance Dance Revolution Club, which officially held its first meeting on Monday and already claims nearly 75 members.

The club's members consider themselves aficionados of Dance Dance Revolution, many of them practicing daily their latest dance steps after school. Several of them said they have become fans of the game because it's fun, challenging and keeps them in great shape.

"I lost 10 pounds playing DDR in the first two months," Vargas said. "I've become more physically fit since I started playing."

THE GAME, which started in Japan and came to the United States in 1998, has developed a cult following in video arcades over the last few years. And now that it is available for Playstation 2, teenagers around the country are increasingly playing it in their own homes.

To play, participants step on an floorpad with arrows pointing in different directions. The game, which the club projects onto a wall, tells its players where to step and how to dance in time with the music. Players are given points for speed and accuracy.

David Oikawa, a 16-year-old junior at South Lakes and a member of the club, said he plays Dance Dance Revolution for at least an hour a day.

"It's my exercise," Oikawa said. "It gets you in better shape and you can lose a ton of weight from it."

Apart from bucking the stereotype of sedentary video games, Dance Dance Revolution also belies the perception that gaming is an isolating, solitary pastime. In the South Lakes cafeteria last week, groups of students, teachers and administrators gathered around to watch the club's members dance in front of the projected game screen.

"It's entertaining. It's social. It's amusing and it's fun," said Tristan McCormick, a 16-year-old junior and a member of the club.

JUDY KELLY, an English teacher at the school, agreed to be the club's faculty sponsor, though she wasn't quite sure what Dance Dance Revolution exactly was.

Last Thursday, Kelly watched for the first time as the students played DDR in the cafeteria.

"It looks like fun," she laughed. "I almost want to do it, but I don't want to embarrass myself."

Kelly grinned as the teenagers danced and cheered each other on.

"You have to be very energetic and athletic to do this and I think they clearly all are," she said.

Dave Tipton, the school's resident police officer, also stopped in to watch the students dance and perform difficult moves at a blindingly fast pace.

"Can you believe that?" Tipton said. "These kids are amazing."