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Self-Improvement & Hobbies

Doing the Gangnam Style at home

With the popularity of dance titles that track full body movements, casual gamers are turning into casual dancers - and vice versa.
The Straits Times - November 7, 2012
By: Sherwin Loh
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Doing the Gangnam Style at home Dance titles allow gamers to practise moves in the comfort of their living rooms. -- ST PHOTO: ASHLEIGH SIM

She took dance lessons in secondary school, has attended dance classes since and even tried following dance tutorials on YouTube.

But when friends praise her slick dance moves, secondary school teacher Fiona Goh knows it is all thanks to a video game series.

After watching videos on the Dance Central game for the Xbox 360 game console and Kinect sensor bar, the 25-year-old figured she had little to lose and bought the whole package, just to learn how to dance.

The problem with dance classes, she found, was that the instructors addressed the group but not individuals, so it was hard to get a personal critique.

With online tutorials, she kept having to pause the video just to keep tabs on the changes in moves.

Dance Central changed all that for her. The game does not use game controllers and the Kinect sensor bar tracks body movements with a camera, to see if a player's steps match those in the game.

There is even a Break It Down mode that lets beginners practise the more advanced moves within a song instead of forcing them to work through the entire song.

After beating the original 2010 game and its 2011 sequel, she was confident enough to take part in this year's Dance Central competition. She emerged the second runner-up in the Singles category and walked away with $200.

"My friends think I'm quite good but it's only because I'm the best one they know," Ms Goh declared with a laugh.

Dance Central is now into its second sequel. There are other rhythm games available. In the 1990s, games such as Dance Dance Revolution became a hit in arcades but they focused more on dance steps than body movements.

In 2009, there was Nintendo Wii's Just Dance. The console's motion controllers tracked the movement of a player's hands, but oddly, not his feet.

With the arrival of the Kinect in 2011, Just Dance 3 added full body movements.

Subsequently, game developer Ubisoft released musician-themed dance titles for Michael Jackson, Abba and The Black Eyed Peas.

Dance Central and Just Dance offer additional songs for purchase and the runaway Korean hit, Gangnam Style, by Psy was recently announced for both games.

Even though the same song can appear in both games, choreography differs. So their moves are not the same.

No sales figures for Singapore have been given but both games have sold more than 10 million units globally.

Locally, the Xbox 360 versions of both are distributed by Ingram Micro. It said Dance Central is proving more popular.

But Just Dance beats Dance Central in group play because it allows up to four players. Dance Central is limited to two.

There are Sony PlayStation 3 versions of Just Dance titles but their use of the PlayStation Move motion controllers means body movements are not tracked during gameplay.

With more than 1,000 people taking part in the Dance Central competition, it is clear that many casual gamers have become casual dancers, said Mr Ian Tan, Microsoft's marketing manager for Interactive Entertainment Business, Consumer Channels Group.

"Where they may have been shy to join dance classes or try new moves in a club, they can now pick up professional moves at their own pace."

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