2.20.2007

The Faux-Music Revolution

At some point, someone in the games industry decided that gamers needed to put their skills to use, or, at least, they had to feel like they had practical skills. While it's always great to hear buzz news about games making better surgeons or fighter pilots, some visionary decided that these connections were too long-term. Gaming needed superstars NOW, and thus the fake game-musician was born.Games like Karaoke Revolution and Guitar Hero are tremendous fun (note my introductory disclaimer to save myself from angry hate-mail), just as long as we remember that mad Guitar Hero skills do not translate into a shot at the lead guitarist spot for Def Leppard. I have beaten a trained dancer in Dance Dance Revolution and, yea, I've dominated a Juilliard vocalist in Karaoke Revolution. This neither makes me the better dancer, nor singer. Just because I can pump out Hoobastank's "The Reason", lyric-less, on an "ooh" vowel at perfect pitch does not make my performance stunning.

This delusion did not originate in our proud nation. No no no. Like Speed Racer and a string of terrible Godzilla movies before it, the fake music game came from Japan. You would not BELIEVE how popular they are there. The ultimate clairvoyant moment for a would-be game-rocker is seeing a Japanese businessman shuffle into an arcade, put down his briefcase, and kick the holy hell out of the hardest guitar hero-esque track in existence, and that's one of the easier games. This guy is not a rock star, clearly, but he makes you look like you're playing the game with your feet-- no, not just your feet. He makes you look like you are pressing the fret buttons with your foot (whichever one is less coordinated), while a stray cat you found in the alley behind the arcade paws at the strum lever...ferociously. Wake up gamers, these games do not inherently make you rock superstars. In fact, Guitar Hero likely makes you worse at real guitar.

It's not all frowns and "better luck next time"s, though. You can still get a lot of pride out of your music games, as long as you don't take them too seriously. The best performances in these games come from the guy who scores a 30 out of 7500 points, but who played the bridge of his song on top of the coffee table, after ripping off his shirt. Music games are perfect for "anti sobriety" parties, and you're guaranteed to have a blast making an ass out of yourself. So, hey kid, go be a rockstar...just, for the love of God, don't take your act on the road or even to the nearby karaoke bar, because I don't want to have to fear encountering you every time I go out with friends.

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