We’ve had Guitar Hero for a few years on a couple of platforms (Wii and PS3, the PS3 version is better, the Wii version made a horrible noise when you missed a note and was very distracting). We also recently bought Band Hero despite the fact that there’s only two of us in the house. We love the games, we keep trying to find a copy of Rock Band (and Rock Band 2) second hand although they’re still expensive, because they’re still popular.
It amuses me when I hear people talking about how ‘sad it is’ to play Guitar Hero and how they feel it’s not good for kids in case ‘they think they’re playing a real instrument’ and it puts them off playing a proper guitar or learning the drums or whatever.
In fact, it’s worse than amusing, it’s annoying. Firstly, we know it’s not a real guitar folks. In fact, if you try and treat it like a guitar you’ll not do very well in the game. You have to treat it like a game controller (which, amazingly it is) and treat winning like playing a game of hitting the colours. It helps to have good manual dexterity and it helps to have a good sense of rhythm and it can be useful to know the song, but these aren’t critical. It’s entirely possible to ace songs with the sound muted, because it’s about pressing the right colour at the right time.
It feels to me that it’s only some part time musicians who feel a little threatened by the fun that people can have playing Guitar Hero and similar games. Those of us having fun playing them know they’re games, know they don’t make us musicians and know that it’s only a controller.
I never, even as a kid, truly thought I could fly a jet fighter just because I played T.L.L. on the Spectrum for hours on end. I suspect kids playing Guitar Hero or Band Hero or Rock Band know even better than their parents that it’s a game controller they’re handling and not a real instrument. But you know what? If it gets them interested in music and being musical and if it encourages cooperative gaming rather than purely competitive gaming then how can that be a bad thing?
If you are deluded enough to think the little plastic thing in your hands is a real golf club and that you learned to play golf in front of your Wii, maybe you’re better off not playing Guitar Hero, but for the rest of us, we know it’s a game, we know it’s a game controller and we don’t care. It’s fun.