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Aaron Waite Aaron Waite
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Won't Get Fooled Again

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How I sucked the fun out of rhythm games

I remember the day I met my future boss.

Well, not met. I didn't actually meet him that day. But I did watch him dance.

I was at the Bangor Mall, tagging along with my sister on one of our myriad trips to Obnoxious Game Place to search the shelves for rare PS1 RPGs. After rummaging about the cases and making a purchase or two, we wandered in the general direction of the then-bustling arcade. Just after we turned the corner, I squinted in curiosity at the crowd that gathered around the sound of metallic stomps. I wondered what could have brought all of these people to the nerdiest corner of the mall, heads bobbing to a 90s Euro-club beat.

On this day, I discovered rhythm gaming through a little title known as 'Dance Dance Revolution.'

He was fast, impossibly so, said the rational part of my teenaged brain. The barrage of arrows on-screen seemed to go in 15 directions rather than just four. The onlookers were cheering and watching in awe as he seemed to take it all in stride, feet becoming a blur as his Vans became one with the metal controller.

Finishing the song to applause, he chuckled and ran back to KB Toys, more than likely late coming back from his break due to entertaining the bypassers of the mall.

At this moment, I knew that rhythm games were going to make me look awesome, cause beautiful women to flock to my side and possibly make me millions of dollars.

Luckily, my sister also had found herself enamored with this electronic dancing extravaganza and had purchased the PS2 version. For hours, I stomped about like a hardcore kid trying to start a mosh pit at a Barry Manilow concert, slowly but surely making progress until I was finally playing at the top tier of Heavy. I would have friends come over to gaze upon my spindly frame waving arms and legs about in a fury, somehow connecting with the pace of the arrows flying at 200 beats per minute. I would go to the mall for the express purpose of wandering into the arcade and showing off for the entire three song set. I was like a machine that ran on Mountain Dew and compliments from those watching.

I felt like some kind of barely post-pubescent dance god.

But just as suddenly as my fame seemed to be reaching its peak, a new challenger came forth in the form of a multi-buttoned plastic guitar. Dance was out, rock was in. I pursed my lips and collected my cash and picked up a copy of 'Guitar Hero II.' I had to be the best at rhythm games, ANY rhythm games, and I was going to prove it once again. Within a few weeks, I was playing on Expert, my fingers flying across my green, red, yellow, blue and orange canvas of sonic artwork. And much like with every endeavor in my life, I felt the need to show off. I would stage dive off of couches, drop to my knees in the midst of a solo, play Weezer songs behind my head; if rockstars did it, I did it, too.

After a few years and several plastic instruments over several systems, I finally came to this realization: I was wasting hundreds of hours doing something for the sake of building up some sort of seemingly-amazing alternate persona. I was playing these games not for the sake of fun and entertainment, but simply for my starving ego.

With my wounded pride in tow, I gave away most of my rhythm game accessories, vowing to make better use of my time.

...and then I started playing 'World of Warcraft.'

Aaron Waite's boss lived happily ever after. He was last seen in the wild, waving his arms while imitating GiR from 'Invader Zim.


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