[girl]Every person that’s really into video games remembers his or her first console and game. For the lucky few, it may have been the original Nintendo and the Super Mario Bros. Others may have started out a Playstation 1 with Crash Bandicoot or even Centipede on Gameboy. But since those days as a kid, video games have evolved tremendously.
The musical genre of video games has taken over millions of TVs and shows no sign of letting go. Very rarely will there be a lone Xbox 360 or Play Station – dorm rooms all over sport miniature guitars or drum sets. It’s not uncommon to hear someone bragging more about their completion of the expert level rather than the ability to actually play a real instrument. Preferences between the games have also risen. Which game has the better guitar or songs? While that question is under debate, the popularity of the rock ‘n roll video games is not.
“It’s something simple you can pick up,” said computer science freshman Will Seeger about Rock Band’s appeal. “It’s more mindless than anything.” When he and his roommate first got Rock Band shortly after it was released, he played it for an hour or two almost every day. But after a while, the novelty wore off and his dedication to the game only turns up a few times a month. “You can only play it so long until you’ve done everything you can do,” he said. Although Guitar Hero has the more challenging guitar part, “The drums are the most fun,” he said. “They require a lot more coordination. It takes a lot more time to get good at it.”
[drums]A salesperson at a local video game store, who requested to have his name and place of employment withheld, explained there are a lot of reasons these games are so popular. “[The games] are completely different,” he said. “You don’t need to know the system.” Because the musical games have unique controllers, the players do not have to know how to use the traditional game controllers. “That’s the reason the Wii is so popular,” he said. These new games grant access to a wider variety of people into the video game world. He mentioned there have been a lot of older people buying Wiis and the karaoke games. The overall music genre of games, including Dance Dance Revolution, Sing Star and the new Dancing with the Stars game, are arguably the most popular genre right now. While the dancing and karaoke games continue to have good and steady sales, Rock Band and Guitar Hero sell even faster.
Telecommunication, information studies and media professor Brian Winn explained the games are so popular for a few main reasons. Not only are the games fun to play, but “they’re fun to watch too,” Winn said. “It’s like going to watch karaoke.” Some performers are really good, and some of them are really awful. In addition to the simple fact of the music and video game combination, “There’s the novelty of the control devices. It gives you a much more visual game that makes you feel like you’re a rock star,” he said.
Making a distinct controller “was a very minor jump,” but it made a huge impact in popularity. Dance Dance Revolution had the original unique controller for a video game. “It was the first arcade game that ever bridged that gap into the home market,” Winn said. “It’s a natural tendency [for] people to like to play at home.”[rock11]
There are some people, though, that think neither of the games are worth the money and time. Hospitality business junior Tess Grohoski thinks the games are ridiculous. “You’re not learning anything when you’re playing,” she said. “I don’t see the point in rocking out if you’re not playing the guitar.” She thinks the games are just a fad that will die out shortly. If the games actually taught players to do something, or required them to do something besides just sit and stare at a screen, she’d probably feel differently about them. “You’re just pushing buttons,” she said. With games like Dance Dance Revolution and Wii though, “they get kids off their butts. At least [players] are moving,” she said.
But of the people that do spend a lot of time following the colored circles and lines, which is better – Guitar Hero or Rock Band? Since Guitar Heroes 1 and 2 were designed by the same creators of Rock Band, there’s a tough debate. According to the sales at the local game store, Guitar Hero is the winner, but that is mostly due to the fact it is available on more systems. Rock Band is only available for Xbox 360 and Playstation 3 while Guitar Hero is also on Playstation 2 and Wii. However, Rock Band has the advantage of being able to download new songs every week.
Computer science sophomore Andy Rossow prefers Rock Band to Guitar Hero because it allows more people to play at a time, on guitar, vocals and drums, and it lets each person choose what difficulty they want to play. “The third Guitar Hero was a letdown,” he said. The makers seemed to try too hard to make the game more challenging. Likewise, journalism sophomore Eric Chiu prefers Rock Band. He thinks the game and the instruments are of higher quality. “Guitar Hero is way shallower,” he said. “[Rock Band] appeals to me more.”[negative]
Chiu is part of the minority of virtual and real life guitar players. He explained there is an obviously “different skill set.” Because he’s been playing the guitar since sixth grade, Chiu would usually rather spend time practicing that, but he said, “[Rock Band] is a nice distraction…It’s easy to pick up, but there’s enough depth to play well that keeps you coming back.” While he typically practices both his 6-stringed and 5-buttoned guitars for about six hours a week, he doesn’t care other people spend more time just on the video game. He realizes how easy it is to become addicted to the game.
Rossow, who does not play guitar, enjoys the simplicity of the game. Unlike playing the real guitar, “you don’t have to practice technique,” he said. “The song’s gonna come out good every time.”
But will the novelty of these games be enough to keep them en vogue forever, or just until another next best thing comes around? Until the creators give us the scoop on what they’re conjuring up, we’ll just have to enjoy these games while it’s still fun to pretend to be a rock star.