You Just Can’t Make Everybody Happy

I grew up during the 8-bit era of video gaming, i.e. Pong and Pac-Man.  At first all the games were very repetitive and there was not a lot of story there.   My childhood gaming console was the Atari 2600.  But my little brother is six years younger.  Sometime around 1990 he got his first NES.  Remember Super Mario Brothers?  Mario is one of the most recognizable icons of our time, and is still at the helm of Nintendo’s flagship.  But you know what?  In 20 years of Mario Bro’s I’ve never heard one complaint that playing the video game is nothing like what real plumbers do.  Nor did Indie car drives complain about Pole Position.  There was even an Atari commercial in the 80’s starring Pete Rose, despite the fact that Atari’s baseball game looked awful in every way.  They were games, it wasn’t real, and we didn’t care.

Since the release of Guitar Hero there has been a growing number of haters complaining that playing video games is not playing guitar.  My first argument was “DUH!  So?”  But the commercial success of the Guitar Hero and Rock Band series have made the idea of playing in a garage band cool again for a whole new generation of youth.  I don’t see what there is to complain about if guitar gods are worship by kids who imitate them, and certainly if they go from playing the game to taking real lessons.  And then…

Enter Rock Band 3.  The game developers and Fender Musical Inst. Corp. have worked together to produce a working electric guitar that functions as the game controller.  They have taken an actual Fender Squier Strat and made it interactive with the video game.  Sensors in the neck of the guitar detect your hand movements in real time.  You can then unplug from the game and into a real amp.  Game developers, in combination with Fender, have responded to the critism that Rock Band is nothing like playing a real instrument.  Now you will be able to play the game with a real instrument, and even start learning to play with the game.  Playing the Rock Band drum was already kind of like playing the drums, and that is about to get even more so as well. 

BUT… some people you can’t make happy.  Die hard fans of the Stratocaster are whining about how they took a real guitar and made it a game controller.  Come on.  The Squier guitar is a real Strat, but not really.  Squier Strat by Fender retails for less than $200 and is made in either China, Korea or Indonesia.  An American made Fender Strat doesn’t retail for less than $1,000 and the ones with names on them (like Eric Clapton) sell for almost $3,000.  I have a Squier Strat, I’m not knocking them.  It’s a really good cheap guitar.  My point?  If some kid has never owned/played a guitar, then buying Rock Band 3 is both a cool move as a gamer and a first step in putting a real, 6-string electric guitar in his hands.  It’s not like they chopped open Hendrix’s Fender and shoved a Wii remote into the back of it.


About Clark Bunch

Pastor (Unity Baptist) author (God is Near) husband, father, blogger, coffee enthusiast.
This entry was posted in entertainment, F.Y.I., music and tagged , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

6 Responses to You Just Can’t Make Everybody Happy

  1. Zach Walton says:

    The only fact check I can give you is that Pac-Man and Pong are considered 4-bit gaming, as is the Atari 2600. The NES belonged to the second generation of game consoles which upgraded to 8-bit, alongside the Sega Master System.


    • Martin Goldberg says:

      Zach, that’s completely off. There was no “4-bit gaming”. The Atari 2600 and it’s generation are 8-bit machines. The 2600 itself uses the 8-bit 6507 processor in fact.


  2. Clark Bunch says:

    Thanks Zach; what I really wanted to know is what you think about playing Rock Band. Are video gamers and “real” musicians opposing forces, or is there common ground we can all meet on? Is bringing a real guitar into the mix good for the game but bad for the guitar?


  3. Zach Walton says:

    Well Bunch, the thing is, gamers and musicians are different people with different hobbies. Games like Rock Band and Guitar Hero fall into the rhythm game genre as well as the casual game genre because they let anybody jump in and play regardless of skill.

    That being said, I think that the evolution of Rock Band especially makes us wonder when the game stops and the real musicianship begins. I think that musicians should embrace these tools to get more people playing music. I’m musically impaired but I’m sure there a lot of children who don’t have the money to get a really good guitar as you said, and the Rock Band 3 guitar is a good, affordable fit for them.

    There’s no real middle ground for gamers and musicians but there is a chance that some people who play Rock Band 3 will evolve into real musicians one day. It’s only good for both the gaming and recording industry if we can both say that the next chart topper started on Rock Band 3.


  4. dell90wattac says:

    As a gamer and a musician, I say that playing Rock Band, either on the guitar, microphone or drums, has helped me as a musician.

    The most obvious point is singing in Rock Band, which is, you know, exactly the same as in real life.

    Playing the drums in Rock Band actually gave me the coordination to move my legs and arms separately and because of it, I can play the real drums.

    As for guitar, obviously the real guitar is a whole lot more complicated, but even then, I think I have an advantage over a non-guitar hero player. I have a friend who plays guitar, and has for longer than me. He never plays with his pinky. I, on the other hand, a less advanced guitar player, use my pinky all the time because when you play Guitar Hero you HAVE to use your pinky. In that sense, it’s given me something a guitarist whose never played Guitar Hero doesn’t have.

    And yes, I think there is a good middle ground. If NOTHING else, Rock Band is advertisement for the bands. I’ve multiple times played a song on Rock Band, liked it, and went on iTunes to get the full album. How is this not awesome?

    And things like full size guitars being compatible with Rock Band is also a good thing because we’re getting closer and closer to kids playing games and actually learning something.

    The only people who can’t find that middle ground are either too ignorant on one side or the other or have a hate to one side or the other.


  5. Clark Bunch says:

    I certainly believe that being a guitar player makes the game easier. Dudley Morris is one of the better guitar players I know, and one of the reasons he mastered Guitar Hero when it came out is that he was already accustomed to strumming up and down. Guitar players that play the game also know this: some songs are easier to play for real than the game versions.


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