Guitar Hero – it’s a good thing, right?

Ever on the cutting edge of truly monumental topics of debate, I’ve decided to weigh in on the Guitar Hero craze that has captured the minds and benumbed fingers of our youth.  Including my household.

I’m not gonna describe the game, if you don’t already know about it then you’re clearly here by mispelling something in a Google search.   This unexpected mega-hit from Harmonix systems, now on it’s third sequel if you count the 80’s music edition, has become THE game to buy for Christmas and spawned a cottage industry for customized gear (including refurbished REAL guitars with buttons replacing the frets) and it’s own social microcosm.

That’s all well and good.  I owe it to these games for teaching my kids that Greenday is NOT punk, but the Ramones are (not to mention who the HELL the Ramones were).  Just the other day my heart leapt as I overheard a back seat discussion over who my daughter’s favorite ‘new’ bands were; Pantera, Boston or Queen.  Ah, has it been so long ago that they were jamming to Barney or Hanson?  Shudder.

And I know, all over America impressionable youth are being saved from the ravages of Rap and Hip-hop, becoming edu-macated that their parent’s music doesn’t necessarily suck.  Depending on the parents, of course – MY parents music sucked.   Ferrante & Teicher! And people wonder why I turned out the way I did (Sorry Mom & Dad – Love ya’!).  

Anyhow, by making some older acts now ‘cool’, this younger generation has begun exploring even other classic bands, having realized that they might in fact be missing something.  It blows me away to see a kid at the mall wearing a Pink Floyd shirt, knowing damn well he might’ve been conceived to ‘Dark Side of the Moon’, but has definitely not seen it performed live.

But I’ve been reluctant to jump too deeply into the game’s culture myself.  Yes, I’ve dabbled (I mean, I AM human) but every time I spend more than 20 minutes on the controller, a little voice creeps into my head saying “you know, if you were practicing one of your REAL guitars upstairs, you’d actually be accomplishing something with your life”.  That little voice is mean sometimes.

That’s just it.  Is Guitar Hero just another example of us ‘dumbing down’ a more intricate art and skill set, so that one doesn’t actually have to apply himself to sound halfway decent?  I mean, sure getting 5 stars on ‘Iron Man’ is fun – so is mastering it yourself after sounding it out by ear on a secondhand Stratocaster.   And the later way is not only more fulfilling, it teachs abilities that can be honed and perfected over a lifetime.  Every time I see a group of Skater thugs crowded into a circle, discussing their Guitar Hero ‘gear’ – or God forbid I see someone with a multi-stickered CASE for their controller - I wanna smack them all collectively on the backs of their oily heads and lead them like the Pied Piper to Sam Ash.

And are the same bands who now benefit from greater name recognition due to having a song included in the game, at the same time short changing the very nature of what they did to write, re-write and record said hit tune?  Is it oversimplifying a very difficult and time consuming process ?

My daughters tell me I’m wrong, that by having to fight & practice to master ‘Bark at the Moon’ on Expert level, they have been given a feel for just how difficult the guitar really is, and how gifted a musician Jake E. Lee must be to have written that legendary rocker.  Touche’.

So maybe it really is a good thing.  Or at least the good outweighs the negatives.  I guess time will tell. 

In the meantime, back to 3 starring Medium level ‘Slow Ride’ for me.  As my Charvel model 3b gathers dust upstairs, and gently weeps.

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4 Responses to “Guitar Hero – it’s a good thing, right?”

  1. COD says:

    The jump from easy to medium on that game is a big one. Who knew the pinky finger was so damn hard to control? I don’t think that there is any relationship between Guitar Hero and a real guitar. Other than maybe I’m realizing if I find Guitar Hero this challenging, I’m probably better off never following through on the “learn to play guitar” line on my list of things to do.

  2. RevMortis says:

    Yeah, I’m more of a middle finger guy myself. But as for a relationship between REAL guitar and Guitar Hero. It’s a thin line, but the sense of rhythm and finger dexterity needed for the game are useful for the instrument.

    I recall Jonathan from Korn commenting that songs on Guitar Hero were harder than playing them for real. I figure he would know.

  3. Scott Kleindorfer says:

    I here ya, my Ibanez hasn’t been picked up for quite a while. But I’ve never touched a Guitar Hero game. Haven’t even learned to play my (expensive) Ibanez! HaHa!

  4. RevMortis says:

    Well, there’s always time. At least, in theory, right?

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