Why we play Guitar Hero instead of “the real thing.”

October 12th, 2006 by Tommy Gun
After the amazing response to the Guitar Hero videos I put up, I just wanted to take a moment to respond to some of the comments.

guitar-hero-125.jpgIt seems for every Guitar Hero video posted by anyone, there will inevitably be comments like, “Go buy a real guitar!”, “What’s the point?”, “Get a life!”, and so on. I think people overestimate how much time it takes to learn how to play these games. If you play other music/rhythm games, the concept is similar and the learning curve is a lot lower. Even if you’re playing for the first time, it’s pretty simple.

Here is a list of reasons why people play Guitar Hero instead of the real thing:

  1. Guitar Hero is tons of fun, right away.
  2. There isn’t a huge learning curve, you can jump right in and “feel” like you’re playing guitar, even on Easy!
  3. You get to play real songs, with a full (virtual) band, and not start out with “Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star,” or other boring songs.
  4. Some people just really like video games.
  5. It’s cheaper than a real guitar.
  6. You don’t have to tune it.
  7. You don’t have to buy new strings.
  8. You don’t have to learn to read music (you have to learn to read scrolling notes, sure, but come on, green = green, that’s not hard!).
  9. Guitar Hero is tons of fun, even after you’ve beaten every song.
  10. You can play with a group of friends, even if they’ve never played before.
  11. It has a scoring system, which means you can compete against friends, and people all over the world by comparing scores online.
  12. Guitar Hero is tons of fun, period.

I’m in no way suggesting that Guitar Hero is superior to real guitar, just giving reasons why many of us play it (I’ve never seen a GH player badmouth real guitar). You should really play it for yourself before you make a negative comment about it. Most people get hooked right away (unless they really hate all the songs, but if that’s the case, they probably wouldn’t want to play real guitar either). You’ll be able to see how and why people get good at it — not because they spend grueling hours practicing, but because they spend short periods of time having fun, always getting better naturally.

I’ll even admit that years ago while watching crazy Beatmania videos by dj LISU I wondered the same thing — why doesn’t he spend that time learning piano? Eventually I came to the same conclusions as above. (And it turns out he does play piano.)

Does anyone ever make the comment, “Why are you playing Madden when you could go outside and throw a real football?” A lot of similar reasons apply — in Madden you have a whole team (GH: band), you can be someone else (GH: a rocker), everything is authentic like team and player names (GH: real songs), etc. Hell, a real football is even cheaper than buying Madden! But that’s not the point, see? You probably feel more like a professional football player while playing Madden than you do in your backyard throwing a ball to your friend, just like playing Guitar Hero makes you feel more like a rock star than playing tabs does. It takes a lot more practice with a real guitar to feel like a rock star.

One last thing I should mention. Guitar Hero will not teach you how to play a real guitar, but it will teach you rhythm! It may even get formerly uninterested people to start learning real guitar (people have commented that they’re now learning guitar because of this game). Honestly, I was never interested in playing music, even though my mom’s a piano teacher. One day I started playing DDR, my rhythm improved, and I actually got interested in music. I went on to play many other music games, and am now obsessed with Drummania. In Drummania you are, essentially (on the harder levels), really playing the drums (but it is a little simplified). If I sit down in front of a real drum set, I can actually play stuff, all because of DM. Now I’m trying to teach myself to play the real drums, because I love it so much. So don’t be so quick to write it off. If you’re really so passionate* about guitar that you want others to do it, Guitar Hero may not be such a bad thing.

* Just a side note: calling someone a fag and telling them to buy a real guitar so they can be like you, isn’t exactly the best way to sell something.

24 Responses to “Why we play Guitar Hero instead of “the real thing.””

  1. Tommy Gun says: