Saturday, September 12, 2009

Rock Hero Guitar Band

I support Rock Band and Guitar Hero, the video games.
First, I had always wondered about the popularity of Japanese rhythm games, and why the idea never caught on in the west.  The answer, potentially, is that it's all about how you culturally frame the essential actions, not the actions themselves.  (Final Fantasy, your day is coming.)  So the popularity of Rock Band gave me that way of considering the question.
Second, I like the way it gives non-performers a pretty good hint of what it's like to play in a band with people.  Not live, of course, but a group of friends drinking and playing Rock Band on a Saturday night carries something of the dynamic of a jam band getting together in someone's basement.  Of course it's not the same thing, but there's a taste of it.
Third, real guitarists -- and it's always the guitarists, which says a lot about guitarists -- are just wrong when they complain that people should be learning to play real instruments instead.  In my experience, people don't generally play Rock Band because they have inner musicians longing to get out (though they might anyway), and many of the musicians I know do play it as well.  People play it because it's a fun way to play a game and listen to music with friends, it gives focus to a party with grown-ups who might not otherwise be able to think of anything fun to do, and it's fun to pretend to be a rock star for a little while.
Further on that point, if Rock Band ever actually does prevent anyone from taking up real music, then music is better off.  I mean that quality-wise, but with the shape of the music industry these days it applies quantitatively as well.
So what's my point?
None of this affects that I fucking hate my upstairs neighbors at least three times a week.

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