The /dance Function

I don’t know where /dance started, but I am guessing Everquest. Regardless, dancing in MMOs has become such a critical feature that if an MMO developer decides not to add the emote command they have to proactively defend their decision. It is a big deal to dance in MMOs.

At the most basic level, dancing in MMOs is eye candy.  It’s something to show your wife or girlfriend.  It’s something that allows the animation team to show off some of their skills.  But, /dance goes way beyond this basic level.  The command gets players together doing something active, and possibly creative, while waiting for a raid to start or merely just to add energy to the town-hub chat channel.  In some cases, it even becomes part of the game’s mechanics where you might have to dance or die… or die by dancing.

Dancing in MMOs is also a great form of creating machinima.  My absolute favorite is Dance of 100 Guild Warriors.  I also really like World of Warcraft’s style. And, we have to add in the two games danceoff.  This is in addition to countless “music videos” created from dancing and emotes of MMOs, and videos of characters just dancing by themselves for the fun of it.

Of course, I have to touch on Mythic’s decision not to incorporate dancing in Warhammer Online.  Their reasoning is superficially sound: ‘a game about total WAR needs no dancing.’  I feel, though, that they lost something when they made that decisions, a regression if you will.  Dancing is not about carebears in the tavern, it is about the social and mental illusion of being active when players are not or cannot be.  In Warhammer Online we either have people standing around or people running around in circles, jumping over people, and generally being pests in order to maintain that illuion of activity.  It feels like they gave up the middle ground, which forced players to the extremes.  I would’ve much rather had “there are no polar bear pets or wedding dresses where there is total WAR, but there is dancing… especially dancing to taunt your enemies.”

Dancing is how players roleplay without roleplaying.  It’s how players party up without grouping.  It’s probably the least known catalyst in MMOs.  It also teaches players about real-world culture.  Can’t beat that.

like no one is watching

18 thoughts on “The /dance Function”

  1. I am sorry, but Vikings danced, Mongols danced, dance has been a part of the culture of War since the dawn of time. Music has been a part of culture since the dawn of time…
    And where there is music, there is bound to be dance (even a foot tap if you will)
    For Mythic, this really meant “Hey, we don’t want to put the time into making dance emotes, and just cut corners as much as possible”.

    When my wife saw she could not dance in WAR, she logged off, never to return.
    (PS: We must also note the non-existence of /kiss or /hug as well. So sad…)

  2. Who says you can’t dance in the middle of a war?-) I personally use /dance as a taunt. Just as my foe is hitting the ground, the last thing he sees is my character dancing..

  3. /dance is almost representative at this point of the social aspects of MMOs. I’m sure you could make a good social MMO without /dance if you worked really hard at it, not sure why you would, but you could.

    The problem I found in WAR was that it tried to completely eschew all the social aspects. It seemed as though Mythic wanted you to either be fighting or logged out. I can’t really comment whether this is working for them or not, but it rather turned me off.

  4. Someone I just don’t miss the naked nelf or belf dancing on a mailbox for attention.

    While I agree some form of ‘idle’ animation would not hurt, it’s really not near the top of my list in what I expect in an MMO. I hear Second Life has some sweet dance animations though…

  5. In terms of the ratio money earnt : development time, I think adding dancing ranks pretty low on the list. Sure, add it in if you really have money and time to burn…. but most (all) MMO developers don’t.

    Maybe they can release dancing in an expansion or something.

  6. In PotBS, I would greet all my friends with a /jig

    I still do, but in WAR, all I get is an error message.

    Remember Shadowbane’s old advert? “We don’t play games to bake bread, we play them to crush!”

    Well, I like baking bread, and I also like doing jigs. It’s all very well MMOs making themselves out to be all big and tough, but see where that got Shadowbane. The social aspect is what binds people to the game for the long term.

    Oh, and I’ll have some player housing too while they’re sorting out my /jig

  7. Emotes are just a silly way of communicating in a MMORPG, even if your communicating to a faction that can’t understand you. For example, one time I SAVED a Troll in WoW*I’m a night elf/alliance* in Stranglethorn Vale from being killed by adds. He /bowed to me and /dance and so forth to show his apprecation, which I in turned /bow.

    While this perhaps operates opposite in what the game developers want opposing factions to behave to one another, the freedom to have some form of communcation seems more human. Perhaps a little wake up call that when your PVPing it’s not a nameless drone your fighting but another human being, so don’t be an ass.

    So add fun little emotes no matter how serious your game is, the game is for FUN…isn’t it?

  8. They’re going a bit too far with this ‘in-lore’ excuse. See exhibit A:

    Sorry to be the party-pooper here, but arranging duels like this isn’t allowed. This is so for a few reasons. To start with, it doesn’t go well with the WAR setting; Order and Destruction aren’t enemies due to mere ideological or political reasons but rather are bitter and irrevocable enemies where kill-on-sight is the the norm. There’s also the aspect of renown and victory points to consider. Although duels don’t have a large impact on zone locking mechanisms, they do contribute and again, it’s just not the way these things are meant to work.

    (Read full article at Wizards & Wenches)

    When I installed WAR, the first thing I did is try out /dance and I was disappointed. Surely it wouldn’t be as bad as they think it is.

  9. Holy crap I’m resubscribing! Seriously.

    I was close already, but a reply from Paul is enough to push me over the top. For now.

  10. Yes, I do love the Zealot’s /special. Especially in a standoff in oRvR. There is something… ethereal about floating above the battlefield in defiance of the filthy Order.

  11. Yes, I’ve always used the /special in lieu of the missing slashdancing. It makes my Warrior Priest look retarded, though. Playing with a puppet while waiting for a BO to cap. :(

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