Dance gaming is a sport in which the player moves their body to the music according to the instructions given by a computer. On the screen, the game shows step patterns which the player has to perform on their dance pad. These step patterns are designed to match the music playing, so the player has to not only read the patterns on the screen but also listen to the music to stay on the beat. An advanced sense of rhythm or great motor coordination are not necessary for playing as they will develop as you play.
Dance games' conquest of Finland began after the turn of the millennium. The first significant player communities were formed around 2003, at which time the sport still spread only within small, specific circles. In 2006 Suomen Tanssipelaajat ry was founded to advance the status of the sport and improve opportunities to play it. In May 2007 dance games became officially a sport in Finland and the playerbase continued growing along with the availability of products and the increasing media spotlight. Dance games like In the Groove (ITG) and Dance Dance Revolution (DDR) have been liked in Finland by small but solid community from the 2002 to this day.
During 2007 and 2008 the association began several cooperation projects with various groups. Nuori Suomi ry, Suomen Tanssiurheiluliitto and Ubergames (then known as Positive Gaming Finland) were among the organizations with which there were countless promotion gigs at conventions, schools and various kinds of events. In the 2010s the focus has been shifted from dance games as a sport to the realm of electronic sports under the Finnish Esports Federation. In addition dance games have been promoted on TV, radio and magazines, for example as the halftime show during the Finnish Eurovision contestant selection before 1.5 million people.
Suomen Tanssipelaajat ry annually organizes several competitions for everyone from beginners to Finland's very best players. The level of the Finnish Championship has increased year after year and Finnish players are among the best in Europe. In addition to competitions there are other events available for players every year. Competitions and events are also used by the players to get to know each other and socialize. In some areas there are weekly dancing meetups at which local players can socialize and play together.
The most common way to play dance games is at home on your own computer or console. Playing at home can take you far whether you do it alone or with friends but many long-time players end up seeking other active players. Still, most players do not play to become competitive but to have fun and socialize at home, with friends or at the arcade. Dance games are easy to find at many conventions (Desucon, Yukicon, etc.). Dance games are also available at some schools and youth houses.
Arcade cabinets are favored especially by skilled players because they offer a higher quality playing experience compared to available home pads. Because of this most significant competitions are held on cabinets and almost all international comparison of scores is done via scores obtained on arcade cabinets. However, compared to home pads arcade cabinets are difficult to obtain and often cost more to play on. Despite that arcades still have large numbers of players and many consider arcades to be the peak of the sport to which home pads are just the beginning. There are ITG-cabinets at the Mäkkylä arcade, while Pump It Up machines can be found in Kinopalatsi, Helsinki, and in HopLop theme parks around the country.
The best opportunities to come in contact with other players are via the dance gamer Discord server (featuring an international channel) and various conventions.