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