I’m a big fan of dancing in many forms. I also really like Harmonix games, so info about the Dance Central line tends to catch my eye. This Kotaku article is titled “On Playing Dance Central 2 While Male”. Now, I expected a bit of ridiculous gender role stereotyping about how silly guys look playing the game, but here’s the first half of the article:
Recently my friend, who for this article we’ll call “Dan,” was over at my apartment for beers and video games. We’d gone through most of the big fall releases—I showed him some craziness from Saints Row: The Third, got across the gist of Catherine, and played some (shockingly fun) split-screen Modern Warfare 3 spec-ops. The Kinect had gotten a go as well, and we’d laughed our way through several levels of Gunstringer and gotten our asses kicked by the surprisingly difficult Child of Eden.
“You know, I’ve got Dance Central 2 here, let’s play that!” I said, pointing to the shiny, colorful box of Harmonix’s Kinect-only dancing game.
“Sure,” Dan said, though in retrospect he was doubtless entirely unsure what he was getting himself into. And so we played Dance Central 2, two dorky bros in the mid-afternoon, standing in front of the TV and swinging our hips to “Toxic” and “Bad Romance.” It was funny, it was dumb; it was uniquely uncomfortable.
After we played for a little while, we took a break to have a beer and Dan remarked to me, “Man, that game is kind of uncomfortable for straight guys!” (I’m paraphrasing—he said it much more thoughtfully than that.)
I agreed, because I knew what he meant—I mean, one plays Dance Central by dancing. It requires an entirely different sort of physical interaction than most other video games. It was as though Dan and I had been sitting around pondering what to do and one of us had said, “You know what? Let’s go dancing together, just you and me!” Suffice to say, that is not something either of us would likely ever suggest. We’re fairly boring.
This was not about being male. This was about being gay. The game made them uncomfortable because as straight men, they shouldn’t be dancing, especially not dancing in the presence of other men.
He goes on to lift quotes from a Gamasutra article (and a very good one, talking about the unique connection the game brings to your sense of identity and self-expression), but never ties it in with the issues of his sexuality that made him uncomfortable in the first place. If he wasn’t shooting something from a car window or doing something else undoubtedly male, he got unsettled because then it was kind of gay. The article is just littered with terminology that supports his straight identity - the games he lists at the beginning (Saint’s Row, MW3, the extremely hetero Catherine), the break after playing Dance Central to have some beers…
Later, he says that he feels uncomfortable about it because he’s “straight-laced” and isn’t prone to expressing himself through dance. And that’s a cool thing that the Gamasutra article hits on. But almost everything in his article that’s not just reviewing his source is instead giving off the impression that dancing is gay.
Read the Gamasutra article, and I think you will see that Kirk Hamilton either missed the point or expressed it really poorly.
NAS’ response is right on the nose. I wish I’d written it. Nicely done.