Exergame Spotlight: Dance Games

That awkward family reunion just wouldn’t be complete without your hip uncle getting out his Twister set, or if he’s a little more modern, one of the many dance games that have stormed the console market over the past decade.

Whilst the thought of competing in a game of ‘who can make the weirdest body movement’ with relatives you hardly know might be enough to make you sweat, it turns out that Dance games are one of the key genres in active gaming and can be incredibly effective cardiovascular exercises. Today we take a look at a few different examples.

Dance, Dance Revolution

The popular Japanese game series is arguably the definitive dance game, with the ‘arrow’ floor paddles often what comes to mind when you think of dance games. However it’s less accessible than the others with the vast majority being built specifically for arcade machines (the last non-mobile home release was Dance Dance Revolution II for the Nintendo Wii in 2011) and, well you just don’t see that many video-game arcades around any more.

Gamers playing Dance Dance Revolution at Comic-Con 2006. Credit: Doug Kline

However the purpose built exergame platform – constantly under development since the first game launched in 1998 – is arguably one of the most effective examples of active gaming, cited in many of the studies that have been done into exergame efficiency over the years.

DanceStar Party/Dance Central

Dancestar Party and Dance Central were the competing dance games for the Playstation and Xbox consoles respectively, although the popularity and yearly-release model of Just Dance seems to have halted their development, with the prior now five years out of date. They might not be up to date, but if you have either of the older consoles and can pick up a marked-down/pre-owned copy, they’re a good way to get into exergaming on the cheap.

Just Dance

Just Dance seems to have become an unstoppable force in the dance game market, with yearly releases/DLC keeping their music albums up to date, and new game modes keeping the content fresh with each consecutive release. It’s also certainly just as effective as an exergame with this source estimating that you can burn as much as 400 calories per hour of gameplay.

But the main reason that Just Dance is our recommended active dance game is that it’s available on basically every platform. For example, the new Just Dance 2017 – which is set to come out in exactly a month –  will be released on Microsoft Windows, Playstation 3, Playstation 4, Xbox 360, Xbox One, Nintendo Wii, Nintendo Wii U, the as-yet unreleased Nintendo NX, and it also comes with a companion mobile app.  Everybody has a different setup at home and to us, the accessibility of active games is just as important as their effectiveness.

– EC

Check out Dave Callan of Australia’s Good Game discuss Just Dance 2014 in the video below:

Have you had any experience with Dance exergames? Share your story with us using#activategamers for a chance to be featured on the blog.

Like us on Facebook

Follow us on Twitter


Peng, W., Lin, J. and Crouse, J. (2011). Is Playing Exergames Really Exercising? A Meta-Analysis of Energy Expenditure in Active Video Games. Cyberpsychology, Behavior, and Social Networking, 14(11), pp.681-688.