How to Groove at Home With Video Game Mats
If you enjoy arcade dance games, video game mats can help you bring the excitement home! The Nintendo Wii has already made home gaming popular. Now, dance mats and pads allow you to play popular dance games even with Xbox and PS3 consoles! A dance pad is a simple video game controller that depends on your steps for input during a game. Most standard video game mats come in a 3X3 matrix, with certain areas highlighted for game control. These have a simple contact switch, which is activated when stepped upon.
Most commercially designed dance mats can only be used with a specific console brand. When you are looking at your shopping options, make sure your console is supported. So if you get a mat for your Wii, chances are it won’t work on your friend’s Xbox!
One way to categorize video game mats is by physical strength. Basically, dance mats can be either “soft pads” or “hard pads”. The controls in both types are usually the same. The difference lies mainly in the material used, with thin plastic for the soft video game mats and harder material for the others. Recently, a new type of dance mats has become available, known as the “solid state pads”. These innovative game controllers used proximity sensors to detect your steps and movements. While these are expensive, they contain no moving parts and are sturdier than earlier designs of video game mats and dance pads.
If you are a home gamer and will only be using video game mats once in a while, a soft pad is your best option. These are also the most inexpensive ones, costing less than 50 dollars. The light plastic material has stiff inserts, usually foam. This gives the soft pads some basic stability during gameplay. Another advantage is the variety of choices. Any major retailer usually stocks several brands, with individual units designed for the Xbox, Wii, PS3, and Nintendo consoles. Soft pads are also plug-and-play, making them easy to carry to another location.
Hard video game mats are usually seen in arcades and similar social situations. These use metal, wood, and acrylics to create a very sturdy, durable platform. In fact, the whole dance gaming phenomenon took off thanks to the success of arcade dance games such as Dance Dance Revolution and Pump It Up. You may want to take a look at buying a hard pad if you are a heavy gamer or have an active social gaming lifestyle. The cost starts under $50 and can go up to $300 or more, depending on the brand and quality. You can even choose a double-pad for two player gaming for some real excitement!
If you have DIY skills, why not construct your own video game mats? You can shop around for the mechanical switches and contacts used in commercial dance pads. Once you have these, it’s just a matter of constructing a suitable platform using acrylic, wood, or similar materials. If you use the correct materials and design, you could soon be grooving it up on a dance pad of your own!