Guitar Heroism?

Wiis, PlayStations, iPads, blogging platforms, Facebook and anything else worthy of buzz in the digital world.
Bigote
Senior Member
Posts: 40
Joined: Mon Nov 03, 2008 10:45 pm

Guitar Heroism?

Postby Bigote » Thu Dec 25, 2008 11:21 pm

My wife and I bought Guitar Hero for our child this year. As a gaming experience, it sure seems to rock. But as a stepping stone towards musicianship, it has left me feeling ambivalent.

The kid has been interested in making music since birth. He has numerous toy and "real" instruments, and delights in each and every one. While it would be easy to dismiss his strides thus far as simple exercises in noise-making, the relationship between him and his music seemed direct and honest. Whether blowing, striking, or strumming, his noise was his noise, and he seemed to be on the cusp of being able to produce something truly musical, truly his own.

Enter Guitar Hero. The game has provided him a shortcut to sounds (rhythms, theatricality...) resembling those he observes in more advanced musicians. And he seems to have lost interest almost overnight in the instruments he rocked so hard for so long.

Part of me is thrilled to see my kid interact with technology, learn new motor skills, and be exposed to the rock canon. As a parent, I am happy to have provided a toy that has facilitated so many hours of enjoyment. But part of me also fears that this game and its illusionary "rocking out" will put an end to my child's exploration of actual music making.

Will this game and its clones do to music making what the electronic calculator did to long division - i.e. render it a quasi-archaic skill of limited usefulness? And if so, is this necessarily a bad thing?

Gamers and musicians, a troubled parent begs for your insight. Thanks in advance.

christopher_robin
Forum God/Goddess
Posts: 2942
Joined: Wed Mar 17, 2004 10:46 am

Re: Guitar Heroism?

Postby christopher_robin » Fri Dec 26, 2008 12:55 pm

Guitar Hero is really pretty stupid--it's Simon, it has nothing to do with music--and if it's threatening the actual exploration of music you need to put the brakes on.

I suggest picking a song the child really likes and using real instrument(s) to learn it.

This is easier than it sounds. Nearly all of rock music can be played using a few chords, and I rocked a completely accurate version of "Jingle Bells" on a three-year-old's toy bell set yesterday.

There is *no* value to guitar Hero. It's a complete waste of time. You would learn more (a lot more, actually) playing Bridge.

Shipley
Forum God/Goddess
Posts: 2090
Joined: Sat Dec 24, 2005 9:13 am
Location: college park, md
Contact:

Re: Guitar Heroism?

Postby Shipley » Fri Dec 26, 2008 1:05 pm

I picked up bass guitar at 16, didn't touch Guitar Hero until 12 years later.

Heres the thing about Guitar Hero a lot of people who play guitar seem to forget: Playing music is really, incredibly hard. With this game you get to simulate it for the fun, but it doesn't replace music itself.

Guitar Hero's skills don't directly translate to the instrument, for instance one strum bar vs 6 strings. But working your way up the harder diffculties will excercise the fingers on the left hand, making the transitions to learning chords on a physical guitar much easier.

I think of it more as an alternative to passively listening to music. I have the entire album of Foo Fighters' "The Colour And The Shape" downloaded into Rock Band. The next time I want to give that record a spin, I might just as well do it with the game, since I'm just as likely to air guitar, drum on my desk, or sing along. Never mind the music discovery aspect of the games. What kids were likely to learn songs by Deep Purple before this fad?

I really think the game is giving the next generation a greater interest in playing music than not. Madden NFL, the highest selling video game every year for nearly 20 years has yet to replace kids playing football, in spite of many pro players playing the game when they were young.

Simulation of an experience cannot replace the experience. Driving games do not replace NASCAR. War games will not replace war. Grand Theft Auto has not replace crime. Mastrubation does not replace sex. While all these may seem obvious, the chief critics of Guitar Hero seem to always overlook this.

christopher_robin
Forum God/Goddess
Posts: 2942
Joined: Wed Mar 17, 2004 10:46 am

Re: Guitar Heroism?

Postby christopher_robin » Fri Dec 26, 2008 1:23 pm

> Playing music is really, incredibly hard.

There's your problem, right there. Playing an Eddie Van Halen solo is incredibly hard.

Playing music is as easy as learning "Jingle Bells" on the piano. Or a toy bell set.

Guitar Hero helps you with neither; your masturbation analogy is the correct one.

Archipants
Forum Addict
Posts: 138
Joined: Mon Jun 09, 2008 8:04 pm
Location: Madison

Re: Guitar Heroism?

Postby Archipants » Fri Dec 26, 2008 1:27 pm

christopher_robin wrote:There is *no* value to guitar Hero. It's a complete waste of time. You would learn more (a lot more, actually) playing Bridge.

Unless, of course, you enjoy playing it... then it is not a complete waste of time, actually.

Bigote, if you are not feeling so keen on the G.H. any more... get rid of it, or limit your kid's exposure to it. Be a good parent and give him the gift of real lessons on any number of rockable instruments.

It's a game. It's a game. It's a game...

Shipley
Forum God/Goddess
Posts: 2090
Joined: Sat Dec 24, 2005 9:13 am
Location: college park, md
Contact:

Re: Guitar Heroism?

Postby Shipley » Fri Dec 26, 2008 1:34 pm

christopher_robin wrote:Guitar Hero is really pretty stupid--it's Simon, it has nothing to do with music--and if it's threatening the actual exploration of music you need to put the brakes on.

I suggest picking a song the child really likes and using real instrument(s) to learn it.

This is easier than it sounds. Nearly all of rock music can be played using a few chords, and I rocked a completely accurate version of "Jingle Bells" on a three-year-old's toy bell set yesterday.

There is *no* value to guitar Hero. It's a complete waste of time. You would learn more (a lot more, actually) playing Bridge.


I didn't see this response while I was penning mine, but obviously I'm quite wrong. This hobby I've spent countless hours with friends and family enjoying is actually stupid, and a waste of time. Please disregard my above statement. All this time I thought I was having fun...

A LIFE WASTED!

Shipley
Forum God/Goddess
Posts: 2090
Joined: Sat Dec 24, 2005 9:13 am
Location: college park, md
Contact:

Re: Guitar Heroism?

Postby Shipley » Fri Dec 26, 2008 1:37 pm

christopher_robin wrote:> Playing music is really, incredibly hard.

There's your problem, right there. Playing an Eddie Van Halen solo is incredibly hard.

Playing music is as easy as learning "Jingle Bells" on the piano. Or a toy bell set.

Guitar Hero helps you with neither; your masturbation analogy is the correct one.


You're actually confirming my above statement. Playing music at the level of many of those in these games is very, very hard. If you think playing jingle bells is the same as playing the solo in any Van Halen song, then... well gosh I just don't know what to say.

christopher_robin
Forum God/Goddess
Posts: 2942
Joined: Wed Mar 17, 2004 10:46 am

Re: Guitar Heroism?

Postby christopher_robin » Fri Dec 26, 2008 1:41 pm

"Wasted" is a bit strong, but dude, don't kid yourself, no one is going to record your video game "accomplishments" in your obituary. (Completed level 12 in Gears Of War ...)

I treasured every game of Tempest, but I have no illusions about the benefits acquired through all that time and all those quarters (absolutely none).

Here's the thing: playing real music is fun, too!

I know that sounds *crazy*! Insane!

But yes, picking up an actual guitar and actually playing it is tremendously fun. That's one of the main reasons people study music. It's fun.

It is, dare I say, a lot more fun than playing Simon with robots.

So I say, if the kid in question shows love for instruments and demonstrates musical talent, then yes, for God's sake get them the hell away from that idiotic time sink and in front of something that won't be obsolete in 12 months.
Last edited by christopher_robin on Fri Dec 26, 2008 1:50 pm, edited 1 time in total.

christopher_robin
Forum God/Goddess
Posts: 2942
Joined: Wed Mar 17, 2004 10:46 am

Re: Guitar Heroism?

Postby christopher_robin » Fri Dec 26, 2008 1:46 pm

Shipley wrote:
christopher_robin wrote:> Playing music is really, incredibly hard.

There's your problem, right there. Playing an Eddie Van Halen solo is incredibly hard.

Playing music is as easy as learning "Jingle Bells" on the piano. Or a toy bell set.

Guitar Hero helps you with neither; your masturbation analogy is the correct one.


You're actually confirming my above statement. Playing music at the level of many of those in these games is very, very hard. If you think playing jingle bells is the same as playing the solo in any Van Halen song, then... well gosh I just don't know what to say.


Shipley, read again.

The point is that playing music is very easy if you start with something basic... like Jingle Bells.

You sure you played the bass?

Do you actually think playing the bass line for "running with the devil" is "really, incredibly hard"? i could teach a chimp to do it.

The EVH guitar solo, on the other hand, is hard.

Obviously.

That's the point of the post. Playing music isn't hard. it's easy.

Playing complex music can be very difficult. This is also obvious.

Anyway, your statement "Playing music is really, incredibly hard." is not only demonstrably false, it betrays a deep ignorance about the nature of music...as does your last post.

Now that I think about it, maybe you should stick to the video games.

Shipley
Forum God/Goddess
Posts: 2090
Joined: Sat Dec 24, 2005 9:13 am
Location: college park, md
Contact:

Re: Guitar Heroism?

Postby Shipley » Fri Dec 26, 2008 2:06 pm

I just know some tone deaf people with no rhythm skills, and they get a tremendous value out of these kinds of games.

No, they shouldn't replace actual musicianship, but they won't anyway.

Bigote didn't ask a question about whether guitar hero or music, he asked a parenting question. I gave him some more info on the game and tried best to apply my take, but since I played music before I played music games, my view is a bit different. I never had the choice of pressing a green button to play Anarchy In the UK.

Really he probably should limit his kids play on the game, but that would be true of any game. Thats just parenting at work, and he just needed some feedback and theres nothing wrong with that. I'll join you and he in saying the persuing of the arts should be a fundamental part of his education.

I'll never be great on guitar or bass. I can play a lot of those foo fighter riffs, but everyone only has so much talent in certain areas and I've accepted that I reached my peak. Doesn't mean I gave up music, I just gave up the idea that I'll be a musician of any acclaim. By that same token, I've peaked on Guitar Hero, because I can't play many songs on hard and can play almost none on Expert. My fingers don't move that fast.

I think theres still the fundamental confusion that GH detractors have that playing the game is somehow going to take the place of playing the guitar. It isn't!!! But these game do take the place of passively listening to music, and aid in music discovery and thats merit you can't argue against.

Bigote, I hope your kid or kids do find themselves with music, because I'd be happy to mimic the generation that grew up with Guitar Hero in music games 10-15 years from now.

christopher_robin
Forum God/Goddess
Posts: 2942
Joined: Wed Mar 17, 2004 10:46 am

Re: Guitar Heroism?

Postby christopher_robin » Fri Dec 26, 2008 2:14 pm

Thank you for expanding, Shipley. I'm heartened to see your last post.

it's exactly statements like this

Bigote wrote:The kid has been interested in making music since birth.... And he seems to have lost interest almost overnight in the instruments he rocked so hard for so long.


that provoke such a strong reaction in those of us who deeply value music education and the attendant benefits.

That's a very disturbing post.

Shipley
Forum God/Goddess
Posts: 2090
Joined: Sat Dec 24, 2005 9:13 am
Location: college park, md
Contact:

Re: Guitar Heroism?

Postby Shipley » Fri Dec 26, 2008 2:36 pm

And I'm right there with you, but its the same reaction I'd give if a boy decided to play Call Of Duty rather than learn about the real World War II.

If a child has the music ability, they should aspire to be IN guitar hero, not just play it!

fisticuffs
Forum God/Goddess
Posts: 7981
Joined: Sat Jul 24, 2004 2:49 pm
Location: Slightly outside of Madison
Contact:

Re: Guitar Heroism?

Postby fisticuffs » Fri Dec 26, 2008 2:49 pm

Are we sure its Guitar Hero and not the smoking ban that has snuffed out your kids interest in real life rock? Maybe it's all the criminals Kathleen Falk is bussing in to your neighborhood. You want to scare this kid straight just explain to him that no amount of Guitar Hero has ever gotten anyone laid. ever.

Beer Moon
Forum God/Goddess
Posts: 2032
Joined: Mon Jan 17, 2005 7:08 pm
Contact:

Re: Guitar Heroism?

Postby Beer Moon » Fri Dec 26, 2008 2:57 pm

ANYTHING that distracts your child or causes him to lose interest in learning/playing an instrument would be a shame.

Whether it's some stupid girlfriend, a group of other kids, some lame-ass teacher, or any other event or person - it would indeed be a real shame.

There's a bigger lesson here than "video games teach kids that everything in life should come easy to them".

Quite frankly, GH and Rock Band have some hefty difficulty modes that equal or exceed the difficulty required for me to learn some of the more heavy classical solos when I was playing sax all those years ago.

For me, at this level of difficulty is where I stop playing the game, because if I'm going to put that much time and effort into it (and I'm not) - then I would prefer to come out of it with some real skills along with my carpal tunnel.

Parenting has all kinds of difficult challenges like trying to teach your kid that GH skills aren't valued outside of his friends - and real musical skills can have value across all ages, cultures and people. Not an easy lesson to teach, to be sure - but there are harder ones.

But anyone who thinks there is no value to these rhythm games is just in denial. The first things you learn when you play an instrument is to play the same note on rhythm - and you build from there. From a rhythm and dexterity standpoint - as well as from a challenge standpoint - these games have a lot to offer.

Anything you find that kids love to do can be used as a carrot to encourage them to perform valuable enrichment activities. If nothing else, Guitar Hero and other video games are some of the most potent carrots ever invented for children.

supaunknown
Forum God/Goddess
Posts: 5578
Joined: Mon Jun 24, 2002 3:22 pm

Re: Guitar Heroism?

Postby supaunknown » Fri Dec 26, 2008 3:05 pm

I see both sides of this, but, cuz I'm a fumble-fingered musician myself, lean towards thinking Guitar Hero is a waste of time and potential.

I could see the hand-eye coordination that gets developed playing GH translating well for a kid learning how to read sheet music and play an instrument. Musicians that can sight-read-play music have a big up on the majority of us hacks.

CR's right - making some sweet sweet music really isn't that hard. In the USA we've only got the notes A thru G#. That's only 12 freakin' notes! A perfectly useful rhythm guitarist could spend a fun lifetime playing simple major or minor bar chords.

I played a lot of video games when I was a kid and continue to today. Fisti's spot on - I never got laid after rolling the scoreboard on Joust, but there was this one time after a gig at Dudley's ...


Return to “Technology & Video Games”

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 1 guest