Archive for the ‘Stepmania’ Category

Moving on…More Stepmania!

January 22, 2008

That last post’s discussion was lovely but it began wearing thin as it was really wearing away at my own need for other-based validation.  It was “XH and ME” and the ensuing discussion was more about him than me which was fine for a minute.  Feel free to continue, but I’m moving on.

Sort of.

I saw this article about music to work out by and wondered what the favs were out there.  Suffice it to say, I probably haven’t heard anything put out after 1994, or if I have it has been by accident rather than design.

according to the article, the sweet spot for cardio is 120-140 BPM, which fits me nicely although I’m more 130-150 and up.  With Stepmania, I can actually run upward above 300 BPM but only for around 2 minutes at a time.

In the Stepmania stepmix contest, there are occasions where people submit songs with very low BPM and these are often extremely challenging because you are going against how a body naturally wants to move at those speeds.  And then there are some that will start out reasonable at 130 BPM and speed it up to 450 BPM.  Those are quite nasty.

So what are my favorite dance/workout tunes?  I’m on dial-up for at least another week, so I hope you appreciate the effort here!

1. Blast the Speakers – Warp Brothers This song at 142 BPM is right in there.  I have various versions of this one that I have made stepfiles for.  On this Youtube version, you aren’t even hearing half of it, as the second half of this song is even better.  Once he says “Blast the Speakers!” the pace really picks up!  I dare you to listen to this and not move.

2. Murderous – Nitzer Ebb  These guys were at it in the 80’s and they were so far ahead of their time that I’ve only discovered them recently.  And once I did, I’ve been groovin’! Great for seriously burning off frustration.  This song in particular, but be warned that it might offend more…er…religious sensibilities.   Good workout music but nutcases in RL. You have to remember that EBM music out of Europe in the 1980’s was full of angst and anger.  And these guys really did it well.  They’ll make the list again.  You’ve been warned.

3. Cheeseburger – Sanxion7 : Sanxion7 makes dance music that is very popular with the Stepmania crowd and this silly little song is a lovely example of a rocking step song.  It is is probably the one my kids like the best of all my Stepmania songs.   And who doesn’t like cheeseburgers? (You’ll find the Cheeseburger link on his page with other songs)

4. What is love? Reloaded 2003 – Haddoway This song is cool on so many levels.  I always liked it, and then it was ginned back up for “Night at the Roxbury.” Then I rediscovered it just this past year with the reloaded 2003 version which is a souped up version of the original (the original is seen in the link).  At 135 BPM the remix works well and with an extended version it really makes a sweaty mess.  Add some really astounding steps on the stepfile and it is a barn burner.  And now I have this hot video to watch, too, as sauce for the goose.

5. Genom Screams Virus RemixDM Ashura I’m having trouble finding links to the actual music, but real DDR freaks will know him and this song.  Yes, he does music for the real DDR game as well as for Stepmania.  At 150 BPM, this is one of his slower tunes!

6. Let Your Body Learn – Nitzer Ebb  Told you they’d be back.  They have several others that I like as well, but this one was easier to find on Youtube.

7. Popcorn: (EPO Melo mix) :This song was the first electronic synthesizer music to hit the pop charts in the U.S. in 1972.  And yes, I was there and remember hearing it on the school bus and thinking it was really cool. Since then, the song has been done and redone many, many times.  This one hits my sweet spot at around 135 BPM.  Finding my version has been daunting but go here and you can listen to clips of all of them.  What’s your favorite?

8. Klungkung 2004 – DM Ashura How did he get two in here?  Probably because this song and stepfile from the Stepmania 1 contest blew me away on level 1, which was a 3 footer.  I loved it, as it was fast and exhausting at 175 BPM.   But as a 5 footer, it is still the toughest song I play that is rated “light.”  Okay, the video isn’t much to look at, but it is an awesome song for a real cardio workout…if you can handle it.

9. How U Like Bass – Norman Bass My version has some potty-mouthed spoken stuff that I don’t  play around my kids, but I do have a version that I used Audacity to  splice out the bad/stupid dialogue.  At 140 BPM it just hits and splicing out the spoken parts (that just hack an otherwise good groove) makes it a better workout song.

10.  MAX Forever -DM Ashura I hate putting the same person in so many times, but this is my latest greatest song that is testing me on the step mat.  This one does change speeds and goes from 150 BPM (which is fast but reasonable) to an insane 300 BPM.  what makes this one even more challenging is that it is almost 6 minutes long.  Most DDR/Stepmania songs are right around 2 minutes and this is a marathon that seems to go FOREVER!  If it wasn’t such a good tune and as fun as it is, I would never bother.  In the video you see this fellow “challenging” himself by working this on the keyboard.  He’s working on a 9-foot level (I think) where I work it on the mat at a 7-foot level which is as low as this song goes.  It’s still crazy.  Scoring a ‘C’ on this thing is a major victory for me!

This list looks lamer than I intended, but it shows sort of where I’m at, cardio/music wise.

I’m sure some of you could assemble better lists with better-known artists.  It just so happens I’ve found it hard to find “regular” music that fits the 135-165 BPM pace that I like.  Many pop songs can hit at 120 BPM, but that seems very slow to me nowadays!

FYI, songs 1, 4, 7 & 9 can all be found on this album right here.

D.

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XH and Me

January 12, 2008

I throw tons of traffic XH’s way (or as much as I get) and read everything he writes because the guy has some serious brains. It’s also because I can relate to him on many, many levels. What started out as a connection of experiences with wives who didn’t seem to like sex has branched off into other areas, especially theology and Christianity. XH and I also share some very key personality aspects such as being analytical and deep-thinking. We also share some of the less glamorous personality traits that feed into a couple of his most recent posts.

I sort of felt that his “Problem of Self” post was an oblique reference to things I’ve been writing about differentiation. I had serious thoughts about ginning up a serious reply/rebuttal but couldn’t think of a good reason to do it other than mental masturbation. His latest post about his quest for intimacy with his wife, tho, does move us past that. That is because he knows, and I know and he knows that I know he knows that I know that this has some serious spiritual underpinnings.

Intimacy is something God desires with us. God created intimacy because of His own deep, deep capacity for it. God feels stuff. God created us in His image, and put His essence into us. We are created to love intimately. When one knows another, in the Biblical sense, it is more than simply interlocking parts and exchanging bodily fluids. It is about intimacy. I give XH some props for figuring this out in his 30’s instead of his 40’s, like me.

In the comments to the intimacy post (the “self” post didn’t have many, much to XH’s chagrin) Desmond offers a bit of generous criticism of XH’s ways. Namely the condescending and arrogant ways. I’m going to build on that a bit.

My first ever blog was Sensual Dementia which had a little tagline that said something like “Thoughts from a condescending prick of a husband.” That label was pinned on me when I lived in the iVillage, and I resented it at first but ended up totally embracing it. That label was given to me by none other than Satan! To be perfectly honest I was a condescending prick. I still have a lot of that prick within me that comes out often enough. This is one reason why XH has a capacity to rile me in ways few other bloggers can. It takes a prick to really appreciate the prickishness of another one! XH and I connect in a wierd sense of similarity and commonality but we also have some sharp differences of opinion. Our capacity to get along and be civil to each other hinges on our ability to handle those differences. I have to be able to recognize that despite our eerie similarities, we are different people. We are not the same and it is entirely possible that two intelligent people can look at the exact same thing and come to entirely different conclusions. That is a very important key, here. So even though I don’t see eye-to-eye with him on all of his theology, we can still get along without getting all flamey. It’s not as easy as the rest of you might think. I have a natural penchant for flaming and used to use it on Usenet all the time. Alt.flame could be a pretty fun place. I give him some credit for helping me grow out of that a bit more. I don’t have to respond to what he says if I don’t want to; I can walk away.

In XH’s particular denomination there is an emphasis on uniformity which they incorrectly define as unity. However XH has differentiated himself from his denomination in some very significant areas, namely with his sense of history and his take on creeds He also has maybe a half dozen other areas where he might not agree with the original founders. He’s opinionated to an extreme and isn’t too afraid to throw those opinions out.

So what does this have to do with why his wife won’t trust him with her feelings?

Everything. I know this because I can now see the sort of damage I’ve done in my own marriage by carrying on in exactly the same way. This goes beyond pop psychology, but into reality. And I’m all about reality.

XH’s blog relationships can serve as a bit of a model for what is happening in real life. The first time I handed him some criticism, he turned off his comments, flushed his blogroll and got royally pissed. I was seriously worried he might go dark over it! But given more time to think, he reconsidered.

Why did he do all that? It’s because he was hurt and he didn’t want to be hurt again. He still doesn’t want to be hurt again so he has taken another tact tthat I know really, really well because I’ve used it more than once.

In his Intimacy post, XH mentions his feelings about his wife’s particular intellect which I thought was gutsy. It was that point where a few people might take exception. And we can see how he does this in the blog world.

When it comes to theology and religion, XH looms very, very large. He knows the Bible, Bible history and Christian history probably better than anyone else around the neighborhood. He’s an intellectual heavy weight and this is how he fends off attacks. I’m sure this is not a conscious decision, but I feel pretty confident that it works. I’ve gotten more than one private email from people who are cautious about commenting on a religious post because their ideas might get him riled up. They are afraid to challenge him and afraid of being challenged by him. I admit that I often measure my words against the thoughts and response of an opinionated and zealous XH, who is passionate about his faith.

Thing is, I have the exact same problem. Not just with my wife but with other members of my family. Over the holidays, my mother shared that my brother and sister are often afraid of my intellectual sharpness. My words have the ability to cut deeper than I ever realized. It’s not about being abrupt, rude and vindictive so much as it is about being careless and casual. Like XH, I often assume people know things that I know and see things as I see them. When they don’t, I act surprised because I am surprised! I’m not intentionally trying to be mean or make others feel small and stupid, but it surely happens all the time. People get around me they feel really dumb. And sometimes I really do think some people I’m around are really dumb.

While it isn’t overt, it really does function as a defense mechanism. The best defense is a good offense, and having a razor intellect and whip-like tongue can mask a lot of insecurities and other psychological deficiencies. This is why XH’s theological posts get very few comments while posts on his relationships garner so many. In his relationship posts, we are all on equal ground. He shows his weaknesses with honesty and others see his vulnerability and jump in. Not with accusations or flames but with support. Spiritually, he does have an arrogant swagger. Emotionally, he’s like the rest of us. If he wants more comments on his theological posts, he should quit being a spiritually arrogant, condescending prick of a know-it-all smart ass. Show a bit of vulnerability there, quit acting like the fellow with all the answers and stop sounding like a pharisee. Find a theological question he doesn’t know the answer to and ask others about it.

All of the above only apply if he wants comments or friendly responses. Otherwise, a body writes and puts stuff out there regardless. I’ve got a butt load of posts about psychology on the Blogger version of UA that have few or no comments. I just like having them there and sometimes people come ’round years later and comment. While I like comments, I’m okay not getting them on every post. I just move on. Stepmania post, anyone?

So let’s get back to “self” for a minute and talk about how that fits in to this whole thing.

Like XH, I also see much of psychology having a very “selfish” orientation. Within the Freudian Psychodynamic perspective, it’s all about a person’s past unresolved conflicts. No room for God there. With the cognitive perspective, it is our own false beliefs and irrational thoughts that make things get unglued. With behaviorism, it is all about contingencies of reinforcement. None of the psychological perspectives have any acknowledgement whatsoever of sin and the need for redemption and salvation. No need of a Savior or an acknowledgement of God. It’s all about healing ourselves and becoming our own little god and saving ourselves from our own misery..

That’s not to say there are no truths in psychology. Studying it can be very beneficial in understanding human behaviors and emotions. But relying too much on it can result in losing perspective. The science of emotion and behavior is a worthwhile subject of study but not to the exclusion of others. I get where XH’s suspicions come from. I share much of his skepticism. But differentiation is not the same as individualism or existentialism. It has some similar ideas but isn’t married to a human construct of godlessness.

The problem XH has with his wife is derived from his problems with God. The lack of intimacy he shares with his wife is a mirror of the lack of intimacy with God. Both reflect a poor understanding of differentiation, nevermind its application. And keep in mind, XH and I share a similar psychopathology. We both want intimacy but we’re doing stuff that shoots us in the foot. It was by looking at how XH was coming across that made me realize where I was doing the same sort of stuff. Much of it has to do with being arrogant and being a condescending prick. Even if I don’t mean to be, I need to be more measured and conscious of what I’m doing and saying. I need to take some ownership of my own intellect and then realize that it really isn’t all that. In a sense, XH handing me my rhetorical ass on a plate has been instructive.

Being intimate with God means working past the tendency we have of see God as a being who is constantly and forever offended by everything we do. We do a lot of offensive things, to be sure. However we’re not going to get anywhere if we are forever on guard about offending Him. Who wants to walk on egg shells 24/7? This is how XH’s wife, Z, feels about XH. She can not open up to him because he will find fault with what she says and does. He will become self righteous in defending the faith. She isn’t allowed to have her own individual preferences without risking offense so she puts up her own defense. An intellectual defense against XH would take a lot of energy as he’s so formidable that way. So she uses an emotional one which is working exceedingly well.

Differentiation is about realizing that two married people are not in the same boat. They are still in separate boats, trying to act like they are in one. When someone else tries to steer my boat, they are being controlling and manipulative. When I’m steering both boats it is called togetherness, cooperation and unity! Invoking that whole Biblical submission theology is going to reap a cold dryness that will rival any polar ice cap in the solar system. You can not compel and force authentic intimacy by rules, force, intimidation, threats or any other way.

XH has all the mechanical elements of a fulfilling sex life. By any objective measure, he should be thrilled! He has frequency, he has techniques, he has a variety of activities and a wife who swallows. What the hell is he complaining about? He’s not getting intimacy. One can get all the sexual activity requirements from any hooker, but intimacy is something that can’t be purchased at any price. It is only bought at the expense of self, but not quite the way XH would have us believe in his “self” post.

There is a paradox coming up, and I know some people are going to have a problem with it. Rule-based people who are rigid get very constipated when there is a paradox lounging around. But here it is…

You are only going to be able to connect intimately with another when you are properly differentiated. The level of intimacy one has is directly proportional to the ability to deal emotionally with the differences. If one goes ape shit over some little issue like theology, how can I trust them with my heart? I can say the stuff I do here because I’m anonymous. But how do you stay anonymous in a relationship like marriage? You can’t do it. You can try to create emotional distance but the other person will know you more than you want over time. So you try to deal with differences by trying to eliminate them or acting like they don’t exist. Emotional fusion is when we try to eliminate differences through uniformity. We insist on conforming tothe standard. Whose standard? Well, the man’s standard of course! That’s because he’s conforming to God’s standard, which is the Bible! So we need to squash and press out any differences so that we are a nice, smooth, uniformly united couple. It’s a struggle to maintain that facade while we’re at church and I’ve met a few couples that couldn’t do it. Or wouldn’t. Now imagine keeping the hot iron on every day all day.

Differentiation is about allowing the other person to have their own feelings and opinions without feeling threatened and anxious. XH gets his panties in a wad when I write something he sees as rifled with theological errors. Actually it’s probably not true emotionally, but intellectually he feels compelled to correct the error which he does thoroughly and completely. Which compels me to fix his errors! All done in love, right? It’s no way to run a marriage. Or at least a happy marriage.

Thing is, Z isn’t all that different from XH. We always pick someone with whome we are evenly matched. Z does have some sharpness of her own that was demonstrated all too briefly on her own blog. Just look at the title of it! There is a synergy there that is actually inhibiting their intimacy. Two people with their own unique brand of arrogance and condescension trying to live together. They have amazingly pulled this off but the price has been their intimacy. When their intimacy increases their arrogance will suffer. Not a bad thing but they will suffer for it.

This last paragraph is a real tail twister, because it sets up a bit of a dilemma for XH. I stuck it in there as a manifestation of my own sadistic nature, which oddly enough is covered in the next chapter in Schnarch’s book about the two choice dilemma and marital sadism.

I might extend this post out later but let’s see where it goes on its own.

D.

That didn’t take long.

While musing about the Christian Husband (XH for those who have yet to figure it out) thing I had another thought that plays directly to his “Self” post.

A while back there was some sort of meme going around and it asked something like “Could you live with a replica/copy/clone of yourself?” My answer to that is a definitive NO! I know this only because I see XH as my evil twin and he is bad enough as it is without being an exact copy. In our little community, he and I get into spats as much as anyone else. While this disturbs people in our peaceful, virtual Utopian world, I see that it is kind of necessary.

At the risk of blunting my sadistic side shown above, I have to say I’ve learned a thing or two about self growth through these heated exchanges. I’ve had to confront my less angelic side as well as acknowledge that it isn’t all bad. Using XH as a sort of reflection, I can say that I don’t like myself very much. I don’t like upsetting myself, I don’t like it when I make myself angry and I don’t like it when I see myself upsetting other people. I don’t like my pride and arrogance. I don’t like my condescending prickish self. I really, really loathe all that. But here’s the fact jack: I have to live with myself. I can avoid and move away from every other person on the planet except myself. My own sinful nature is right there, all the time, 24/7. Pretending it isn’t there means I end up fobbing off all my faults and insecurities on to other people. I cause pain to other people. I treat other people like livestock because I’m not dealing with my issues.

For example, there is the smoking issue. Bad, bad, bad, bad. Not much good about it. Except I like it and it helps medicate my pain and anxiety. That excuse of self medicating is a crutch I use to avoid dealing with my own shit. I blame Arwyn for causing my anxiety and thus my smoking. Arwyn hates my smoking. But I smoked before we were married, so she knew she was marrying a smoker. She had regular sex with a smoker: me. She refused to have sex with me when I stopped smoking. Smoking isn’t her issue. It’s mine. And I gotta deal with it without blaming her for it. I smoked before I met her and would continue if she left me today, using that anxiety as an excuse.

I’m confronting things on a lot of levels at the moment that I might rather not. But the conflicts are what have been driving me. Differentiation is a matter of introspection and integrity and not about selfishness. Denial and selfishness are all about fusion, manipulation and control of others. Whenever we try to become fused together through uniformity it is always at the expense of others. Insisting that others are fools for not using andouille sausage is a lot like insisting that others are fools for playing DDR instead of Stepmania. It basically involves an incursion into other people’s preferences and business. While it references their incompetence it also puts us into a corner where just about anything anyone else does calls into question our own integrity.

Uniformity is insisted upon in the military for a reason. It’s because we need to be exactly the same in order to accomplish a single unique mission: to kill other people before they kill us. Not exactly a model for Christian or marital unity.

D.

So You Want to Be a DDR King…

January 11, 2008

Or Queen, as the case may be. I was SSSOOO excited when I read FADKOG‘s (who shall henceforth be called “Sugar”) post on her new DDR Super Nova game. I totally got wood! Fortunately I was differentiated enough to remain calm enough and in control to composed a lovely and lengthy comment to that post. Unfortunately Blogger ate the comment.

Fucking Blogger.

Hey, I’m just staying with the theme, here!

Anyway, I knew very, very few of the songs she mentioned. The one by A-Ha being the only one that rang a bell, and Take On Me has limited utility for serious step dancing. But I’m totally thrilled to have someone who is of my 80’s loving generation who is willing to take this game on. So I’m going to pass along a few things I’ve learned along the way and perhaps Sugar’s enthusiasm will result in others taking up the game. Perhaps there could be a resurgence of step dancing game-playing as we combine our health consciousness and video nerdiness with some serious ’80’s tunes. After all, she is seriously cool with a kickass rack. If she can’t start a local fad, I have no idea of who else could do it.

So I’m your facilitator to the world of step dancing. And the first thing I’m going to do is steer you clear of DDR Super Nova 2. I read the reviews and looked at the musical line-up, and my hat is off to anyone who sticks with this version of the game. You’re seriously hardcore DDR. I am going to steer you towards the free and open source version, which is Stepmania. While you can download everything you want and need (and more) from the site, I do encourage folks to purchase the $20 CD which funds the various Stepmix contests. Or if you want me to send you a copy of mine, just let me know where to send it. Seriously, Open Source means FREE as in beer!

Fortunately Stepmania and DDR are similar enough that we can talk about the basic elements without causing too much grief. Dance Dance Revolution is a series of games (video and arcade) that involve stepping on arrows in time with the music. Hitting the arrows in time and in sequence is rewarded with points. Missing involves penalties. Hitting several arrows in a row is a combination or “combo”. A higher combo will multiply your score. Forr instance, hitting a 100 combo means that I’ve hit 100 arrrows in a row without missing. But if I miss at the 101st step, my combos have to start over. The scoring will multiply your highest combo so after missing that 101st step I can still better myself by hitting the next 110 arrows without missing.

 

 

There are several types of arrow combinations that include traveling around the mat, jumping and holding. Stepmania also includes mines and lift steps, but I turn those off because they are exceedingly nasty and hack my dancing groove. The steps are generally in 4-4 timing, musically although higher levels will include many half and quarter steps that require more speed and agility.

holdsmines

Let’s talk about levels and scoring for a bit. It’s my understanding that DDR has 3 basic skill levels with the various grades between them. Stepmania can have up to 5, but it is the grades or “feet” that really matter. A given song may have 3 or more levels, and each level is rated a certain number of “feet.” “Feet” are just the arbitrary symbol for degree of difficulty and more feet means more difficult.

levels

One foot would be a beginner level with maybe 50 steps in the entire song. So they come relatively slow and far between. You may not be stepping every beat or even every other beat but you are learning how to time your steps and orient yourself to the mat. Two feet would be maybe 60-70 steps with a jump or two thrown in. You’ll know it’s a jump when you see two arrows come up at once and you have to hit them both at the same time. The only way to do that (assuming you have no more than two feet) is to jump.

Before going up to a higher level, beginners have a tendency to pick which arrows will be hit with which feet. For instance, the up and left arrow get the left foot and the right and lower arrow get the right foot, sort of playing zone defense with their feet. But this will break down in higher levels so you might as well get used to the idea of traveling all over the mat. That means not reorienting to the center after every step. Stepping is exactly that: walking, jumping or running from arrow to arrow. You are not penalized for being on an arrow that you aren’t supposed to be on, only for not being on an arrow when it comes up. Those of you who have played Guitar Hero will have a rough idea of how this works, only it takes some time orienting to the space of the mat.

Scoring is rated according to how closely you are timed with the music and your combos. At the end you get scored A-E, where ‘E’ is failing and A is pretty good. AA is way better and AAA and AAAA are impossible dreams, at least for me.

AA AAAAAAA

With DDR, you have to score well on the songs in each stage at a certain level in order to “unlock” more songs. High scores at higher levels unlock more songs. So this gives a person an incentive to keep working and keep playing in order unlock more songs. Thing is, some of the songs might be kind of crappy which means you might have to keep dancing to some crappy songs in order to get to the cool songs. And then you discover the cool songs aren’t all that cool so you dance to more crappy music hoping to unlock the REALLY cool songs.

The complaints I read in reviews of DDR Supernova 2 were that songs were not all that good. I have no idea and since I play Stepmania, it isn’t a concern. Yeah, there’s crappy songs in that game, too, but adding and deleting the music is not a problem. I’ll explain more about that later.

It’s easy to get carried away, as our friend Sugar discovered. On a lower level of play, you can literally play for hours at a time and not realize it. That’s because the steps are relatively far apart and it may take an hour to burn 200 calories. That’s okay because you’re just learning the game. These step games are good aerobic workouts because they are loads of fun and combine video games, dancing and music and possibly annoying a spouse, parent or sibling. But getting a really good workout means doing lots of steps in shorter and shorter periods of time which means higher and higher levels. I currently live at the 5-7 foot level, which is about 75-150 steps per minute which is easily 200+ steps per song which is a lot more than the 50 steps at beginner level. So take a song at 120 Beats per Minute (BPM) and throw in a bunch of half and quarter steps or a bunch of jumps and you get a decent workout. My groove is 135-150 BPM and anything less seems ungodly slow. That’s why the play list for DDR looks a little light to me, but 6 months ago I might have liked it better.

Stepmania page

I like Stepmania for a lot of reasons, besides the fact that it is free. First is that I have an unlimited song selection. I can make a stepfile for any mp3. I can also download hundreds of stepfiles from the web. Right now, I have over 400 songs with stepfiles. With infinite variety I can play whatever I feel like and most of the time it is hard and fast. Stepmania is also infinitely configurable. I can pick whatever animated character I want to dance with (or none), decline to do mines or hold steps, increase or decrease the tempo or choose a dozen different modes like “drunk mode” or “dizzy mode.” I rarely play “stage play” which is the default DDR mode but usually travel through a song group systematically until they are all mastered and then either find another group and increase the difficulty.

There are a couple of disadvantages to Stepmania that need mentioning. One is that most step mats are made for PS/PS2 consoles and so getting it on the PC involves a USB converter costing about $7-10. Not all mats and converters play well with a PC and one must be persistent to make it work. Configuring the mat to work properly can also be a pain compared to a PS2 game where you plug it in and it just works.

The configurability is a double-edged sword because with so many possible options it may take awhile to get it exactly the way you want. Hours could be spend tweaking instead of dancing, which takes a bit of nerdiness to really enjoy. But once everything works, it works wonderfully!

For DDR and Stepmania alike, I recommend trying a cheap mat to start with but once you get past beginner level, you’ll want to upgrade. I have some nice Red Octane mats I found on eBay for half price. The cheap mats slide around a lot when an adult body gets moving fast.

Just thinking about playing? Try and you can play with the arrow keys on your keyboard! Stepmania can also be played on the keyboard and I’d say a majority of the folks actively playing it are keyboard players. It was useful for me playing that way because I learned the game basics, tweaked the program and was able to rate song difficulty before getting on the mat. So I highly recommend trying it before investing any money

For exercise, it compares favorably to a treadmill although you may find yourself do more either because of the game aspect or liking the music aspect or both. But the impact on the bones and joints is about the same, depending on the thickness of your mat and your floor. It is mainly targeting the lower body, but as anyone whose been reading me knows, it can be an effective weight loss tool.

These games also have one other drawback though. Their loudness can and will annoy anyone else in the house. I do my workout after work at work when everyone else is gone. Sometimes I do it at home but Arwyn usually retreats when I do and sometimes the boys go with her. Doing it late at night or early in the morning isn’t going to work unless you find wireless headphones that work, which I haven’t found. Notice Joe Flirt making a hasty retreat after his daughter got one as well as Sugar’s family.

I’m encouraged to see other folks trying it out so maybe it can be a more popular activity at RWB reunions.

D.