I'm not quite sure when or where dancing in MMOs became all the craze, but these days it seems as though every game (except the dour ones with bears, bears, bears) prides itself on a good set of /dance emotes. For some players, it's the perfect way to unwind after a long raid or chew up a bit of time while one waits for SgtCuddlyMonkey to return from his refreshing bio break. For others, it's a legitimate career path with a long and distinguished history of gyrating on top of mailboxes while annoyed postal recipients long for a day when a pelvis will not be gesturing at eye level.
So this week, let's loosen up, let our hair down, and samba across the ballroom floor as we count down (up?) 10 incredible MMO dances.
1. Fallen Earth -- Thriller
Fallen Earth came loaded to bear with a ridiculous number of dance emotes, but for my money, nothing beats breaking out some of Michael Jackson's signature moves -- especially if its under a full moon. It may be the end of the world, but Thriller never goes out of style!
Bonus points if you can get a large crowd of folks to sync up these dances, but beware if you do! Such a sight has impregnated members of both genders due to its intense awesomosity.
2. Free Realms -- Rickrolled
If you haven't subscribed to meme weekly or perhaps have just joined the human race, it's possible you've avoided the Rickroll phenomenon. Free Realms wishes for no one to go through life without such a blessing, which is why there is a special jukebox in the game that transforms players into the immortal visage of Rick Astley. To be "Realm Rolled" is an honor, really.
Oh, Rick -- no matter what you do, we just know you're never gonna give us up, nor let us down, and you're certainly not going to run around and desert us. You're here to stay. Forever and ever and ever.
3. RIFT -- The Carlton
When you think of a dance that embodies the wild abandon of the nerd, there is only one that comes to mind: the Carlton. The Carlton was made popular by Carlton Banks on the sitcom Fresh Prince of Bel-Air, and it absolutely must be seen (or danced) to the tune of Tom Jones' "It's Not Unusual."
A couple of MMOs actually feature the Carlton, although I've fallen in love with RIFT's goofy take on it. No matter where you are or what sticky situation you've landed in, bust out this move and suddenly everything is A-OK.
4. Guild Wars -- Napoleon Dynamite
Vote for Pedro! If nothing else, the Perfect Ten is topical, is it not?
This is another dance emote that made it into multiple games, namely Guild Wars and World of Warcraft. I'm giving the nod to Guild Wars here because it pre-dates the male Blood Elves' dance in The Burning Crusade by several months. Also, I hate elves. They killed my family and French-fried my cat, but now I'm back -- for revenge. Eat hot words, pointy-eared scum!
5. World of Warcraft -- Moonkin... whatever
I was genuinely tempted to put the Forsaken male dance in the WoW category, if only for the fact that it's an MMO dance that caused a real-world casualty. However, nothing can hold a candle to the blazing glory that is the Moonkin... whatever (staff consensus is that it's a blend of the Fat Monica and Cris Farley Chippendales dances).
I'm not sure what to name this profound, profane boogie -- all I know is that you either absolutely love it or hate it deeply. It is the perfect dance emote for all situations, from pre-raid strategy sessions to bursting in on a couple roleplaying how babies are made.
Owlbear + outrageous dance = the apex of civilization.
6. Dungeons & Dragons Online -- Otto's Irresistible Dance
DDO has some of the most eye-bleachingly awful dance emotes ever put into an MMO, yet it sweeps the disco floor with one simple spell. I'm referring to Otto's Irresistible Dance, a crowd control spell that forces enemies to stop attacking and start getting funky all over the place.
To make a good thing even better, the devs put in a wide range of monster dance animations. So if you're curious how that man-scorpion is going to rock the Casbah differently than a kobold, you now have a way to find out!
7. Star Wars Galaxies -- The Entertainer
I'd be highly remiss to write an entire article about MMO dancing and leave out Star Wars Galaxies (although the screams of outrage would be amusing, I suppose...). After all, this is a game that allows you to level up a character solely through dancing as an Entertainer. This means that SWG's designers came up with an incredibly wide assortment of jumps, jives and jiggles that set the bar high for these sorts of shenanigans.
I can't pick just one dance out of the bunch, so here -- I'm lumping them all together into a giant pile of wide-eyed wonder.
8. Allods Online -- Gibberlings' Jig
One sashaying fool can be impressive, but it's even better when you show up to a dance-off with a whole entourage. Allods Online boasts quite a few cool dance emotes, but my vote goes to the Gibberlings, who perform an Irish jig as a trio. Hopefully the leprechauns won't mind. If they do, we'll have an epic battle royale that'll go down in history, I suppose.
I can't stop watching them dance! It's so... hypnotic... must buy... cash shop... items...
9. Age of Conan -- The Stygian dance
You know that scene in any adventure movie where the hero stumbles into an Arabic court and there's always a sexy bellydancer doing her thing on a table as if to highlight the exoticness of it all? The dance that's completely gratuitous and lacking any sort of subtlety but gets the trick done? That's the Stygian dance from Age of Conan. You're welcome.
CAUTION: Do not view the above video in mixed company unless you want to be caught flat-footed with no explanation for the inevitable "What the HECK are you watching?" query. There's no good recovery from that.
10. RuneScape -- The Chicken Dance
How do we end this top ten list? With absolute perfection, of course. What can top the graceful moves of the Chicken Dance? The rhythmic beat? The infectious groove? The tasty aftermath? Nothing, I tell you! Nothing!
The Chicken Dance has made it into quite a few MMOs, but only RuneScape had the courage to allow you to perform this timeless piece dressed as an actual chicken. Bravo, RuneScape! You are my hero!
Bonus: For those who miss Tabula Rasa, this going away party for CuppaJo boasted a few dance moves never seen in the game before. Enjoy!
Justin "Syp" Olivetti enjoys counting up to ten, a feat that he considers the apex of his career. If you'd like to learn how to count as well, check out The Perfect Ten. You can contact him via email at firstname.lastname@example.org or through his gaming blog, Bio Break.