Guitar Hero: Final Thoughts

After practicing by replaying some of the earlier songs to get higher ratings and more unlocks, I finally beat “Bark at the Moon”. Guitar Hero is officially off the stack. I’ll probably play with it some more and see how far I can get on Hard difficulty, but I doubt I’ll ever finish it at that level.

About “Bark at the Moon” as a boss monster: Looking back at the last set of songs, it strikes me as unfortuante that the hardest of the hardest songs has a title that’s a verb phrase in the imperative rather than a noun. The same set has songs titled “Frankenstein” and “Godzilla”. Wouldn’t it be more satisfying to be able to say “Yeah! I finally beat Godzilla!”? Even “Cowboys from Hell”, also in the same set, is more fitting.

Like those songs, “Bark at the Moon” is about a monster. Is it deliberate that the final set is mainly monster songs? Is it coincidence? Or is it just that the kind of band that does really difficult guitar riffs tends to be the kind of band that writes songs about monsters?

On an unrelated note, in a recent editorial in Newsweek, Stephen Levy says that the Guitar Hero gameplay experience is “no different from other experiences made virtually accessible by the computer, from being a World War II sniper to playing golf like Tiger Woods.” The gaming-as-fantasy fallacy again! But then, judging by the anecdotal evidence Levy presents, perhaps it’s not a fallacy. Maybe I’m just atypical. Perhaps imitating the real experience really is the central thing for the people who play Call of Duty or Tiger Woods PGA Tour, games which don’t appeal to me particularly. And perhaps the people who become really obsessed with Guitar Hero, who aren’t satisfied with finishing it at Medium difficulty like me, are doing it to feel like they can play “Bark at the Moon” like Ozzy does. I’ve said that the rock star fantasy isn’t essential to enjoying the game, but maybe it’s essential to getting the most out of it.

Levy also asks:

“…by bestowing the rewards of virtuosity to those who haven’t spent years to earn it, is it dumbing down musicianship? If a teenager can easily become a make-believe guitar hero, does that mean he won’t ever bother to master the real thing?”

For once, a videogame is being blamed for inspiring teenagers to not imitate it in real life. Leaving aside the question of whether fewer teenage guitarists might not be a bad thing, my contact at Harmonix points out that the game could easily have the opposite effect. Even if the game reduces the proportion of guitarist wannabes who go through with learning to play for real, it may be making up for it by producing more guitarist wannabes. In other words, there have got to be people who assumed that they could never play a guitar until they tried it in the game and realized that the skills were accessible after all. Pure speculation, of course, but so is Levy’s comment. I know I can report a similar experience with a different game: Slime Forest convinced me that I could actually learn to read Japanese. A couple of years later, I’m still learning, but I haven’t given up.

No Comments

Leave a reply