Riff This

I know that what I am about to say has the potential to put my life in danger. But I am willing to take that risk, I’m going to put it out there.

Guitar Hero is SUPER annoying.

For those of you who are fortunate enough to not know what Guitar Hero is, let me explain. Guitar Hero is a video game where the players (also known in more adept circles as ‘gamers’) hold a fake guitar and try to follow along with the notes on the screen. There are, of course, songs of varying levels of difficulty and graphics to make you feel like you are actually somewhere other than your mom’s basement. It’s like karaoke for guitar. It’s like Simon but with music instead of annoying electronic beeping. Like many epidemics, you will find that almost everyone you know is acquainted with someone who is afflicted with an addiction to this activity.

I’m not about to take on the entire ‘gaming’ culture and say that all video games should go. I have my share of vices (ie: chocolate, ‘Cold Case Files’, mumus) and I don’t stand in a position where I could deny others of theirs. Plus, there are millions of gamers who would probably form an army and cut me down (albeit virtually) if they perceived a threat.

I watched a rather lengthy piece on the CBC News the other night about the potential health risks of Guitar Hero and it’s new, more elaborate cousin Rock Band. Health risks of a video game. Carpal tunnel, finger pain and eye strain. And from the look of some of the topless, face-painted rockers, brain damage. Truly, there were grown men without their shirts, holding fake instruments, doing high leg kicks. Please, sir, put your shirt on and watch those kicks, you are bound to pull your groin.

What’s your point, Lane? Where are you going with this? What I’m saying is this: why don’t these millions of people, instead of pretending to play instruments with primary-colored buttons on a mini-guitar, learn to play…wait for it…REAL instruments. A guitar can definitely be found cheaper than a video game console. And while you may have to suffer through some callused fingers, you’ll end up with an actual talent. What sounds better to you? “I have a terrible case of eye strain and carpal tunnel from pretending to play instruments on a video game” OR “These calluses on my fingers are from learning to play the guitar…a REAL guitar.” Other potential benefits of playing a real instrument include: being able to play without electric outlets and a television, learning songs that aren’t in the game program and not being totally deluded about your musical abilities.

I hope none of my friends in the blogosphere are offended by my stance on Guitar Hero, but I truly can’t get my mind around this much-hyped phenomenon. As public schools continue to fail to find funding for music programs, children are spending hours in front of a screen pretending to play 80’s hair band music. As culture continues to be dumbed down by the constant flow of entertainment, music has suddenly become as simple as pressing the right buttons in the proper sequence. Maybe I’m overreacting, maybe it’s just a passing phase. But as the Wii has made it unnecessary for people to go to an actual bowling alley to bowl, Guitar Hero may soon suck the life out of many potentially talented musicians. But I hope not.


3 thoughts on “Riff This

  1. A couple more potential benefits of playing a real instrument is that you won’t be a huge dork and you may actually get laid before you are 40.

  2. Oh Lane, I have to concur. I shiver at the thought of potential offspring believing that polyphonic ringtone sounding plastic guitars are in anyway a substitute for an actual instrument. However, I have to disagree with one thing you said:”And while you may have to suffer through some callused fingers, you’ll end up with an actual talent.”I’ve got the callused fingers, but 12 months in and I’m yet to call my musical stylings on the guitar, ‘talent’. 🙂

  3. So true. But the big difference with Guitar Hero is that in a couple of minutes/hours, you can “play” something nice. The real guitar requires months if not years. I got the Wii and I often joke saying: I don’t need to go to a bowling alley now that I have my Wii. Nothing will replace a real bowling alley to me.

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