another successful DDR night

I spent Friday night at the library co-hosting a night of Dance Dance Revolution. DDR, if you’ve never played it, is the game that requires players to jump on a four-way dance pad in sync with music and arrows on the screen.

I’ve gotta say folks, video games in libraries is absolutely what it is cracked up to be. The fact that it is an excellent way to meet the cultural needs of our young patrons was demonstrated to me over and over by the number of people that came and their enthusiasm. We had over 25 kids in the library on a Friday night. It wasn’t the largest event we’ve had at the library, but you wouldn’t know that by the level of energy (and noise). The event was largely open play with a small competition (broken down by skill level) at the end. There was some interesting collaboration going on during the open play. If someone was playing the game on a level beyond their skill and wanted some help, another person would take over the front and left or right parts of the dance pad. This allowed players to get the feel for the more difficult settings and still succeed. I took some mental notes that might help you play your next gaming event:

What worked:

    observing and dancing

  • 25+ kids, two librarians and one PS2. This ratio worked out really well. The kids to video game system might seem a bit low, but we had other things for the kids to do while they were waiting in line. What’s more, evidently DDR is still fun to play without a dance pad. You’ll see in the photoset DDR @ the Library that kids practice and dance along even when they aren’t operating the video game.
  • Jenga and other games on the side. There was a variety of other things to do for when people felt like taking a break. No Jenga pieces were thrown! There were also a deck of cards, and Uno.
  • Harvesting content while they were there. This was an amazingly well behaved and smart group of kids. I mention the library’s audio review for teens, and they were lining up to be recorded. So I went upstairs, wrote a barebones outline that they could follow, fired up Audacity, and away we went. I thought I’d get mostly movie and CD reviews, but no, the kids impressed me again by wanting to mostly talk about books. Their reviews will be available at the Teen Reviews page of the library’s website soon.
  • Setting up a laptop as a sandbox. Three quarters of the way thorough the event I put a laptop on the table by the food and left a Word document open. At first the document was blank, and no one knew what to do, so I put a heading at the top. Here’s the result, no edits: DDR at the library is FUN, because…….
    We always get hyper and get excited to play

    It is very very fun to win even if you mess up a couple of times

    You get so into the game after you find the beats of the songs

    We get to hang out and play some off the hook DDR and we get to goof around to. EVERYONE SHOULD COME.

    I stink at it, and it’s funny to see me mess up!

    Joel is just a joy to have at this fantastic gamming night!!!

    p.s. joel actually ruins it

    I can’t believe we can be so lound and have sooo much fun at the library!!1

    It is th eabsolute best thing EVER!!!!!!!!!! You run around th elibrary doing absolutely nothing important(WHICH IS AWESOME)! DDR is also great. The tournaments are SO cool. NANCY IS DA BOMB. KEVIN IS THE ABSOLUTE BEST MUFFIN FLAVORED DANCER IN DA HOUSE!!!!!!!!!!!! Danny is the best he won it all.AUSTIN SUCKS AT EVERYTHING(Just most things: quote Austin!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! DAN IS AWESOME!!!!!!!!!!!! Lol!!!!
    Back to the main subject,

    It is fun and there is pizza

    You get to get together and dance with all your friends and see how bad (or good) you are at dancing. I love DDR night! I have started practicing and I love to dance! It is great that they do that! And it is cool how people will just voluntarily do this! LOL! We are so loud but then again… we did heve caffine. Thank you Aron and Mr. M!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    I can easily imagine how the AADL’s gaming blog has become so popular for kids. Just like the PRE/Internet report indicated, teens are eager to create.

What didn’t work:

  • IM during the event. We let some kids sign into their “sn” to inform friends where they were, and a few interesting things happened. First, we had to drag them away from the computer to get back to the party at hand. Second, they didn’t practice very thorough online safety and left their passwords saved on AIM. So someone went back to the computer and had some fun pretending to be someone else. This caused some confusion and mild drama, but on the other hand, the kids were pretty laid back about it because, “This happens all of the time.” This leads me to believe that perhaps the lack of good security practices is offset by skepticism on the other end.
  • Human bowling. Kids will be kids. I put an end to the thought of this game quickly.

I recorded a number of entertaining and informative quotes from the kids:

“I need more Mountain Dew!”

“Can we do this again tomorrow morning?”

“I have to go home and practice for next time.”

and my favorite

“Hey Aaron, can I go upstairs to grab a magazine and book to read?”

Like our series of Lyric Opera lectures, or a craft event, a night of video games is an excellent way for the library to entertain its users and poise itself as a cultural institution. We need to keep letting our younger users make the equation “Libraries = a place that knows my tastes = a place where I can have a great experience = a place I want to be.” If we don’t do this, we risk obsolescence and empty meeting rooms in the future.

The pictures might tell a better story than I can. Check out the flickr set: DDR @ the Library

23 thoughts on “another successful DDR night”

  1. This is a fantastic program, Aaron. What a clever way to collect comments and feedback, and you directed them into great activities while they were waiting for their turn. I like that you only do 2 player at a time – I find with 4, it’s hard to see the screen.

  2. The Scottsdale Public Library System had an impromptu DDR session at our Palomino Library, co-located with a high school. I also used the PS2 and had only one metal dance pad…but that dance pad was busy from the second I got the PS2 turned on at 2:45 until we kicked the last kid off at 5:00. At one point, there was 4 teens waiting their turn. They couldn’t wait until I returned with the set-up.

  3. Thanks for this Idea, I’ve been thinking of hosting a DDR party night at my house for some time. Think it will be fun, thanks!

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  4. This is such a good idea! Thanks. We booked with a local rental company ( ) and they came and set it all up. I was a little surprised that their set-up was actually better looking that the arcade version. The kids had great fun and we saw plenty of fresh faces in the library. Anyone who did not have a library card already was signed up for one and many of the new kids have come back again the use the library “for real”.

  5. There are a lot of great points here, but I’m not sure I agree with real-time search being discarded. I agree that it’s not very relevant,but isn’t the point of it to show what people are currently saying about a topic.
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