MDA & 8 Kinds of Fun – Just Dance

Just Dance on Wii is one of my favorite games. I remember playing with my siblings, my neighbors, and my best friends at birthday or graduation parties. Just Dance is an interesting game because it’s very self-directed: dancers can choose how competitive it gets. Whether people play to maximize the points they get, or to get a quick workout in, Just Dance can hold a variety of meaning for many different people.

As discussed in the Aesthetics / Types of Fun Video and the MDA research paper, there are few core aesthetics that I associate with Just Dance. One of the core aesthetics is sense pleasure — I often go back to playing Just Dance for the songs. Some of my favorite songs to dance to with my friends are Girlfriend by Avril Lavigne and It’s Raining Men by The Weather Girls. I also enjoy the sense of playful competition that the game provides. I’ve never played with anyone who’s formally trained as a dancer, or has taken dance classes, but it’s funny how competitive the people I play with get in asserting that they’re the best dancer out of all the players. I think Just Dance allows me, and anyone I play with, to express ourselves. Just as every member of a dance team puts their own spin on the choreography, Just Dance is about following the moves as displayed on the screen, but it’s more enjoyable when I put my own personality into the dance moves. Lastly, I think there’s abnegation embedded into the game as well. At least for me, once the game starts, I’m so focused on myself and my own dancing that I forget about the other players or any spectators. I become immersed in the game, and disengage from reality (the reality: I’m a bad dancer; but in Just Dance: I am the main dancer, everyone else is a backup dancer).

I enjoy how Just Dance employs the mechanics of level of difficulty, level of fitness, and scoring points. For example, I’m able to choose “Easy routines” to warm up before going onto the “Hard routines” to challenge myself. Playing in a multiplayer setting means the person who wins is the dancer who scores the most points by mimicking the dance moves as close to the moves demonstrated on the screen as possible. There are also special moves called “Gold moves”, which, if danced to on time and correctly, can score you more points than regular dance moves. The rarity and unpredictability of these moves makes the game more challenging and addicting. These mechanics provide the player a lot of flexibility, but more importantly different variations of these game mechanics create a higher concentration of the competition aesthetic and therefore the abnegation aesthetic: the more challenging a routine, the more I want to beat the other dancers and score the most points, the more I have to focus, and the more I’m immersed in the dynamics of the game. I also think the ability to choose your “character” in the game adds to the level of expression that a player can experience.

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