In case you haven't noticed, there is a trend emerging from the planning rooms of America's favorite reality television series, a concerted effort to make the series more "real" than ever for loyal fans. It could be seen in the recently completed summer season of "The Bachelor Pad," which brought viewers into the mansion for the first time ever to rub elbows with the pretty people from "The Bachelor" and "The Bachelorette." The move toward more audience participation was also evident on the fans' vote to determine the final contestant on the upcoming all-star season of "Dancing With the Stars." Continuing the theme, BBC Worldwide Productions is bringing its hit ballroom competition show to living rooms all across the nation like never before. In mid-September, the production company announced the release of its new online video game, dubbed "Dancing With the Stars: Keep Dancing," which should give fans a whole new view of ABC's hit reality show.
According to BBC Worldwide, the new game allows fans to control their entire experience and compete virtually right along with the show on their television screens. Online contestants can design their own dancers, pick their professional partners and then get down to the business of dancing with their mouse and keyboard. There is even a Mirrorball Trophy at stake, to be awarded to the most electronically adept couple during each round of game play. To enhance the realism of the virtual experience, the game's creators enlisted the help of a few pros from "Dancing With the Stars," filming their on-floor movements and transferring them to the electronic world of animated ballroom strutting.
Of course, playing a game still has not reached the level of authenticity that would blur the lines between virtual worlds and reality that many science fiction writers have predicted is inevitable in our quest for vicarious thrills. "Dancing With the Stars: Keep Dancing" won't leave you gasping for breath (probably), and you almost surely won't end up as tabloid fodder thanks to an off-screen romance with your dance partner. Nevertheless, the pains taken to capture the essence of the celebrity dancers and the familiar details of the popular series should make the game a hit for dedicated fans.
And, while parlor versions of favorite game shows are really nothing new, we definitely ARE beginning to blur the line between the faces on the screen and the folks we see everyday. Twitter, TMZ and other similar web devices give fans unprecedented access to celebrities, and viewers seem hungry for evermore realistic experiences. A virtual step onto the dance floor seems a logical next step in the evolution of reality television, and "Dancing With the Stars" has struck the first pirouette.