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Student Center to Get DDR Machine

By Brian Loux

A new addition to the Stratton Student Center Game room will arrive within days. For some, that news is like sunshine on a cloudy day.

By now, most people on campus have been exposed in one way or another to some version of the arcade game Dance Dance Revolution (or DDR, as it is known to loyal fans).

One of the many “easy to learn, hard to master” games, it challenges players to hit pads with their feet in time with the beats of the musical score. Instantly recognizable are the overdriving techno and dance beats, the myriad of directional arrows flying past the screen, and its embarassingly overenthusiastic announcer.

Thanks to the efforts Jeff Wager of J&J Amusements, the vendor who supplies the game room, the game will soon debut on the first floor of the Student Center. Wager said that his company “anticipates installing it in the next few days.”

The machine is officially titled DDR 7th Mix, which implies certain songs or “stages” will be available on the game, some of which are compiled from other versions of the game. It also goes by the title DDRMAX2.

DDR not a student initiative

In the recent past, many of the new games added to the arcade were requested by members of MIT’s Electronic Gaming Group. Vice President Chad M. Polycarpe ’03 was responsible for the addition of many of the new fighting games in the arcade.

“A year and a half ago I came into contact with Jeff Wager. I like playing fighting games, but I was getting sick of the staleness of some of the games,” Polycarpe said. “I asked around and got a hold of him. We brought in Streetfighter III Third Strike, Tekken 4, and Tekken Tag Team.”

What is different about the addition of DDR is that it was not a student-led initiative. Polycarpe said that he personally mentioned including the game in the future in his meetings with Wager, but did not extensively push it. “I personally do not like DDR, but I did realize that many people did,” he said.

It turned out that J&J formed their own plans for the game. “The decision to bring in Konami’s Dance Dance Revolution was made by us several months ago, when we learned the game room was moving to the first floor,” Wager said. The additional room would give them the chance to install that machine and more, including the air hockey and pool tables currently seen in the room.

“We didn’t discuss DDR prior to finding out that it was coming, as we were already able to play [DDR] at home,” said EGG member Jumaane A. Jeffries ’02. He described J&J’s decision to purchase the game as a “huge coincidence.”

However, getting the machine was easier said than done. DDR, while licensed to game maker Konami, is not being produced in the United States. “They are only available from the used market in Asia ... [and] the demand exceeds supply,” Wager said. Luckily for Wager, he was able to find an importer in California. He called the acquisition “very fortunate.”

Wager says he is not certain of the location for the system, but that “space should not be a problem.”

Student reactions mixed

Reaction to the news was, and apparently remains, more or less mixed. “Some people [in the EGG] actually were not too thrilled about it,” Jeffries said. “But there are many, like myself, who are really excited about it. I’ve been asked constantly about it.”

“I think DDR is a really fun game,” said Priya A. Agarwal ’04. “It’s a great way to relieve stress and will appeal to a greater number of people.”

“Watch out for big crowd of people gathering round and watching people jive to Paranoia with their eyes closed and backs to the screen,” said Diana L. Lam ’04. Lam also added “this [decision] should have happened two years ago,” referring to the first release of the game.

Some of the arcade regulars were not enthusiastic, but expressed their support of the move. “I’m not into that kind of game ... most people play a certain couple of games only,” said Pee Seeumpornroj ’04, who said that he attends the arcade “almost every day.” He said he supported the move, saying “It would add more variety to our arcade games. We only have joystick control games currently.”

“Although I did lobby for Soul Calibur 2, I think this is a great opportunity for everyone to show their hottest moves,” Jeffries said. Mocking the tone of the announcer of the game, he added, “I’m not quite there yet, but I know I can become a dancing master, because I have friends who are always here for me, who are ready to support my next effort.”

Soul Caliber 2 coming soon

The EGG and students still have a say in the future of the game room. Most recently, an initiative to bring Soul Calibur 2 to the game room has netted success.

“That effort was spearheaded by [Jeffries],” Polycarpe said. “We were talking about the game. The other guys decided that it wouldn’t be a good idea to ask him again. I don’t want to badger [Wager], and he’s a really cool guy. I thought it would be a good idea to make the request a consensus. We decided not to call it a petition because a petition presumes the clientele is not very happy.”

Jeffries went around collecting signatures of students who expressed interest in seeing the machine added to the arcade. He said that the initiative for Soul Calibur 2 had greater support amongst the EGG because it is as of yet unreleased. “The thing for [the EGG] is that SC2 has not been created for any home systems, so it was much more of a priority for us,” Jeffries said.

The campaign was successful. “We have been waiting for a software-updated version that was scheduled for release at the end of October,” Wagner said. Soul Calibur 2 should also arrive at the arcade soon.

Don’t forget your quarters.