Dance video games take technology to the next level
Much to the dismay of first-floor apartment dwellers, interactive dance video games have been prompting kids across the U.S. to get up and dance around their living rooms—and it doesn’t appear to be a passing trend.
Over the past four years, more than 25 million copies of games from the Just Dance series have been sold globally, and as companies continue to release more innovative ways to control their game systems, an increasing number of similar games are entering the market, including the recent In the Groove and Dance Central games.
Much of the success of today’s dance games has been credited to game developers’ aggressive pursuit of finding new ways to put kids in control (in addition to the funky Justin Bieber and Lady Gaga songs included in the games, of course). The three most popular interactive systems currently on the market are:
- Xbox Kinect: A video device that tracks body movement and depth of up to four players at a time using three separate lenses. It is currently the most advanced motion-sensing system.
- Wii Motion Plus Remote: The Wii Motion remote has existed longer than either of the other two systems and includes support for far more games, though it is the most rudimentary system and does not use a video device to capture movement. The remote uses an accelerometer and optical sensors
- Playstation Move: The Playstation Move strikes a balance between the Xbox Kinect and Wii Motion remote, combining a video sensor and a handheld wand controller. The video sensor tracks the movement of the wand as players tilt and turn it during play.
All of these motion systems are utilized in a variety of dance and active games, and have been found in a recent study conducted by the University of California to improve self concepts, social success and academic performance of elementary-aged students.
But these new innovative wonders weren’t the first systems to get kids up and moving. Check out our timeline below to see how technologies have changed during the past 20 years:
1993: The first motion sensing game controller is released by Sega known as the Sega Activator. The controller used infrared laser beams to monitor movement but was largely unsuccessful due to its lack of accuracy.
1998: Dance Dance Revolution debuts in video game arcades across the U.S. Consisting of a base platform that players could dance upon and a screen that provided dance move instructions, DDR machines quickly became popular spots to show off dance moves.
1999-2003: Dance Dance Revolution makes the transition to home video game systems including the Playstation, Dreamcast, Playstation2 and Xbox. The video game was sold bundled with a special plastic mat controller that players can dance upon.
2005: Guitar Hero is released, allowing player to wield a plastic guitar controller as they attempt to play along with a variety of classic rock hits.
2006: Nintendo releases the Wii game system, featuring a new motion-sensing remote motion controller.
2009: Sony unveils its Move motion input device that allows players to control games using gestures and body movements.
2010: Microsoft releases the Kinect system which monitors body movement using multiple lenses.
2012: Microsft releases a new version of Kinect system for use on home computers.
Want to get in on the dancing fun? Visit centralpennparent.com/contests and enter our Wii Summer Prize Pack Giveaway by August 31 for your chance to win several Wii games including Disney Sing It, Just Dance Kids 2, Nickelodeon Dance and Go Vacation!
Joe Barry is the digital editor of Central Penn Parent Magazine. He invites readers to follow his blog online at www.centralpennparent.com/Cup-of-Joe/