235: The Guitar Hero Effect

The Guitar Hero Effect

Many industry analysts talk about the positive effect that games like Rock Band and Guitar Hero have had on music sales. But the relationship between record labels and game makers is a bit more complicated. Ruth Booth looks at how music and game publishers have collaborated to reach new audiences.

Read Full Article

First, the God Of War thing, so awesome. I need that. On a more general note, it's good to see heavy metal making a comeback into the mainstream, though I did know it was doing that before this article, obviously. To me, the Guitar Hero games are made for metalheads, and I'm waiting for Guitar Hero : Metal to come out. Of course there is Metallica, which is damn close. And, although someone could feasibly learn most tracks on guitar hero games in a relatively short amount of time, the metal ones can take years, or forever. My customary response when someone tells me to pick up a real guitar is ask them if they could learn Through The Fire And Flames, then we'll talk. Although, with the exception of Metallica, the games appear to be moving backwards with less metal. I think number 3 was the peak (again, ignoring Metallica) number one had Pantera, Ozzy, so many more. Although at least World Tour had Ozzy AND Zakk as playable characters. That was awesome.

That is so funny, I was writing on a similar idea just the other day, on how games have influenced my musical tastes (specifically Tony Hawk and SSX Tricky - which I was bummed wasn't mentioned...) and of course it eventually led to my thoughts on Guitar Hero and 'The Guitar Hero effect'. But, you put it much more eloquently than I could. Great article!

Heya gent! Didn't know you contributed to the escapist.
I do think though that the old feel of the Guitar Hero franchise (I,e. Heavy Metal/Metal) seems to be fading away to a lighter tone, less heavy and more about general rock. While this is still good it'll never really feel the same as it used to, seeing as the Guitar Hero and Rockband games are generally the most fun (for me anyways) when the soundtrack takes a heavier turn.

Awesome article though Gent!

I think it's funny how they think that bands see games as at pat in the back. MetallicA done it cause their kids love the game. Slash featured in GH:3 (as far as I'm aware) cause he loved the game.

I also agree with 'brunothepig' (awesome name XD)

Surely the GH effect has been around a lot longer than guitar hero itself? I remember getting heavily into Nine Inch Nails after playing Quake... surely I'm not the only one?

Its really too bad that Guitar Hero and Rock Band have almost no metal in it (in relation to the amount of other genres). Maybe DLC has been added since the last I saw it. Perhaps I will look into the game when they come out with "Metal Rock Band" or "Guitar Hero: No Shitty Music."

What about that guy that was angry about it? Saying that the only way bands can get heard nowadays is if they have their songs in a videogame? It was some guy from a big band, but I'll be damned if I remember which one.

At any rate, most of my favourite songs are from videogame soundtracks, but that's because music isn't very important for me and it's just a secondary thing I enjoy when and stumble upon it.

I really need to play Guitar Band or whatever it is. Everyone keeps saying how it's an awesome experience. To me it looks like a faster Simon Says with a soundtrack.

Now if you'll excuse me.

THERE IS A HOUSE IN NEW ORLEAAAAAANS
THEY CAAAAAAALL THE RIIIIIISING SUUUUUUUN

The problem I have with the 'pretend to be a rock star' games is that they turn the music into a joke and it discourages people to take up REAL instruments and play the those songs they like.

I will admit that I have hardly even seen the 'hero' type games, but that is out of principle - but what I did see was songs being watered down and treated like a joke, many of the notes you needed to 'press' had no resemblence on what was actually being played on the song.

I know that its 'fun' to pretend that you can actually play that stuff, even when you know full well that you can't - and I also understand that not everyone wants to spend years learning to play guitar so they can have that 'rock god' feeling, but its like a FPS player picking up a gun and running into a combat zone: they might think they know what they are doing, but in reality they know very little and will soon get cut to pieces.

The "rock god feeling without the hard work" is the main selling point with these games, but what happens to those people who want to actually play the real instrument? If they have experianced such heights of being a rock god in a video game and then a real guitar noob overnight I would imagine that alot of potential musicians will be put off by the actual effort they need to put in to play some of these songs for real.

Video games I understand are all 'make beleive' and 'lets pretend' that I am a space marine or a elf or something like that - but that is because they are NOT accessable. I know that in my life I will NEVER be an NFL superstar, or a space marine etc etc - thats why the games hold such appeal. Games like 'guitar hero' should be discouraged at best simply because the real thing is out there, easy to start and affordable. Hell you can't even say that its for disabled people because you need both hands to play the game as well as a real guitar! (well, more fingers help but even on bass you could live with 1 or 2 :P) The 100+ price tag on some of this shite you could buy real instruments for less, and if your worried about noise you could buy an electric guitar and plug it into a little amp with a headphone jack - simple!

If you really want to play the songs and honor the artists you enjoy, who write and play this stuff for a living the least you can do is put the effort in and learn them for real (and yes I can play a real guitar and have been in a few bands).

The biggest complaint I have about games like Guitar Hero is thus:

It makes pseudo-fans out of non-fans. I can't tell you how many times I've heard some imbecilic frat boy claim to a fan of Lynyrd Skynyrd or Metallica, yet can only name Freebird or Master of Puppets as their favorites. It really grates on my nerves after a while.

/pretentious...

ldwater:
Video games I understand are all 'make beleive' and 'lets pretend' that I am a space marine or a elf or something like that - but that is because they are NOT accessable. I know that in my life I will NEVER be an NFL superstar, or a space marine etc etc - thats why the games hold such appeal. Games like 'guitar hero' should be discouraged at best simply because the real thing is out there, easy to start and affordable. Hell you can't even say that its for disabled people because you need both hands to play the game as well as a real guitar! (well, more fingers help but even on bass you could live with 1 or 2 :P) The 100+ price tag on some of this shite you could buy real instruments for less, and if your worried about noise you could buy an electric guitar and plug it into a little amp with a headphone jack - simple!

Guitar Hero does feature the word 'Hero' in the title for a reason. The game doesn't just offer the possibility of being able to play a guitar, it offers the chance to play your favourite songs to large audiences rocking out to your performing and having the crowd cheer at your achievement. For you to be able to do that in real life, it requires a lot more work and sacrifice, is a lot riskier to do and can cost a lot more money and popularity than simpy being a musician ever will. Then you've got to consider the fact that cover acts don't get very far in comparison with actual bands, so you have even less chance to 'play your favourite songs to large audiences rocking out to your performing and having the crowd cheer at your achievement', simply because people want to hear original stuff, not just covers that you like. Comparing being a hobby musician to being a successful performer who can play mainly covers of their favourite songs to large audiences and have them approve of you is like comparing being an NFL Superstar to being someone in the College Football team, and saying that NFL games should be frowned upon as it's easy to become good at American Football with a little bit of practice and with enough money spent on equipment.

In short, Russ Pitts summed it up:

Russ Pitts:
But then the game began, and as the camera zoomed over the cartoon audience - my audience - I realized I was about to perform, not just play. That's when I understood what about this game had captivated millions.

Being good at Guitar Hero may not make you an actual guitar hero, and it may not teach you lick one about playing an actual guitar, but if the essence of being a god of rock can possibly be distilled, stripped of the blood, sweat and tears required to become good at the craft, then the result is Guitar Hero. Playing the plastic guitar may not be cool in the universal sense, but it's a pretty damn awesome game.

That's what makes the game 'make believe' and 'lets pretend', similarly to sports games, such as your NFL example. Whilst they're more possible and accessible than being a Mage, a blue hedgehog or a space bounty hunter, there's still little possibility of it actually happening.

User banned by his own request

I'm done with Rock Band and Guitar Hero until they release a game that caters to my taste of "metal."

Enough Metallica, Iron Maiden and Black Sabbath.

I want Necrophagist, Dissection, Arsis, Carcass...etc.

But I won't be getting that anytime soon. Sadly, it seems to be going in the opposite direction.

But that's what dreams and mods are for. XD

bakonslayer:
That is so funny, I was writing on a similar idea just the other day, on how games have influenced my musical tastes (specifically Tony Hawk and SSX Tricky - which I was bummed wasn't mentioned...) and of course it eventually led to my thoughts on Guitar Hero and 'The Guitar Hero effect'. But, you put it much more eloquently than I could. Great article!

My love for primus came from Tony Hawk, horrible as that might be. But I was too young to listen to primus when they first came out. So it was the only way for me to find out :P

Arcticflame:

bakonslayer:
That games have influenced my musical tastes (specifically Tony Hawk and SSX Tricky - which I was bummed wasn't mentioned...)

My love for primus came from Tony Hawk, horrible as that might be. But I was too young to listen to primus when they first came out. So it was the only way for me to find out :P

No shame in that, at all my brother! My first Primus was Guitar Hero 2 and Bill and Ted's Bogus Journey (Short AWESOME cameo). Tony Hawk taught me Flogging Molly and Iron Maiden when I was ten while SSX taught me Run-D.M.C. All of which I wouldn't have been exposed to outside of video games at that time.

brunothepig:
I'm waiting for Guitar Hero : Metal to come out.

Not official I think,but http://www.freewebs.com/ghmetaledition/framehome.html

You can see it has actual metal in it's soundtrack.

I think that the smaller newer metal bands may need a place in the games industry fir the reasons that kids like new shit and alot of metal fans around my age probably got into metal through video games.I myself came into it from liking a couple of songs from Need For Speed: Most Wanted.

Bands like Gama Bomb have released their new album for free on their myspace because they need to get their name out there.It's bands like that I think need to get their name out as DLC for Rock Band/Guitar Hero.

daishonato:
Surely the GH effect has been around a lot longer than guitar hero itself? I remember getting heavily into Nine Inch Nails after playing Quake... surely I'm not the only one?

It's the fact that since GH is so big, the effect it's had is inherently bigger.

I always described the guitar hero effect as the visual phenomenon when everything seems to be pulling downwards after an extended play session on a high difficulty (easy and medium move downwards too slow).

Similar to the tetris effect, what am I gonna use now? :(

ldwater:
The problem I have with the 'pretend to be a rock star' games is that they turn the music into a joke and it discourages people to take up REAL instruments and play the those songs they like.


If you really want to play the songs and honor the artists you enjoy, who write and play this stuff for a living the least you can do is put the effort in and learn them for real (and yes I can play a real guitar and have been in a few bands).

Actually there are a lot of people who do play real instruments that get into the game. The top three Rock Band/GH drummers in XBLA (azuritereaction, someguy913, forgot the other guy's name) can all play the drums in real life. My brother would've won our local GH3 tourney if he didn't arrive late and default; he used to play guitar in a band.

Then there's the fact that these rhythm games are actually serve as a powerful gateway into real musicianship. When you've played at being rock god on a plastic guitar, sooner or later you'll want to know how it really feels to play. Hell, I only know a bit of guitar and absolutely no drums. Trying out the Rock Band drum kit actually got me interested in wanting to play drums for real.

Even Harmonix is moving towards teaching their players how to really play music; Rock Band 3 features a pro mode where the guitar chart is basically a tablature, and you have a choice of using either a plastic guitar with 6 buttons for every fret, or an actual guitar designed to work with the game.

So while your anger at "fake musicians" is understandable, the truth is rhythm games have benefited the music scene more than anything else.

romxxii:

ldwater:
The problem I have with the 'pretend to be a rock star' games is that they turn the music into a joke and it discourages people to take up REAL instruments and play the those songs they like.


If you really want to play the songs and honor the artists you enjoy, who write and play this stuff for a living the least you can do is put the effort in and learn them for real (and yes I can play a real guitar and have been in a few bands).

Actually there are a lot of people who do play real instruments that get into the game. The top three Rock Band/GH drummers in XBLA (azuritereaction, someguy913, forgot the other guy's name) can all play the drums in real life. My brother would've won our local GH3 tourney if he didn't arrive late and default; he used to play guitar in a band.

Then there's the fact that these rhythm games are actually serve as a powerful gateway into real musicianship. When you've played at being rock god on a plastic guitar, sooner or later you'll want to know how it really feels to play. Hell, I only know a bit of guitar and absolutely no drums. Trying out the Rock Band drum kit actually got me interested in wanting to play drums for real.

Even Harmonix is moving towards teaching their players how to really play music; Rock Band 3 features a pro mode where the guitar chart is basically a tablature, and you have a choice of using either a plastic guitar with 6 buttons for every fret, or an actual guitar designed to work with the game.

So while your anger at "fake musicians" is understandable, the truth is rhythm games have benefited the music scene more than anything else.

Drums I can understand, mainly because its quite hard to 'pretend' to play the drums without something that looks like drums, and most of the time even if you just get some basic skills from the game then they are easily transfered into real drums.

My main issue was with guitar, and its great to see them trying to implement a system where you can play a real guitar because it means that people who play real instruments have a chance to join in and not feel like they are dumbing themselves down or players who want to move onto real instruments have a stepping stone to move up to.

Unfortunatly I still feel that 90% of people won't even bother with the 'real' instrument part as it takes significantly more effort to learn and play than a fake plastic one.

As for benefitting the music scene, yeah I would admit that those games have exposed alot of good bands to audiences that wouldn't normally be associated with video games or to the types of people who play the 'guitar hero' type games.

ldwater:

My main issue was with guitar, and its great to see them trying to implement a system where you can play a real guitar because it means that people who play real instruments have a chance to join in and not feel like they are dumbing themselves down or players who want to move onto real instruments have a stepping stone to move up to.

Unfortunatly I still feel that 90% of people won't even bother with the 'real' instrument part as it takes significantly more effort to learn and play than a fake plastic one.

As for benefitting the music scene, yeah I would admit that those games have exposed alot of good bands to audiences that wouldn't normally be associated with video games or to the types of people who play the 'guitar hero' type games.

I would have to disagree with your argument in bold. My sister, with absolutely no experience in any musical instrument save her voice (she's a mezzo soprano), started playing Guitar Hero on easy. Once she got the hang of it, she started moving towards harder difficulties. These days she

The note chart starts to teach you things like hammer-ons, pull-offs and sliding down the neck to hit multiple chords with the same pattern. It's still a primitive analogue to the real thing, but it comes close enough that sooner or later you'd want to play the real thing with the same virtuosity.

Again, Harmonix's drive to make it a true 1:1 experience shows that they don't just want to make a silly plastic guitar game; they want to turn everyone into true-blue metalheads.

I hope that when RB3 comes out, you'll join the rest of us and see that pretend rocking out is just as intense as the real thing. I should know, I've fronted for a band a few times. :P

romxxii:

ldwater:

Unfortunatly I still feel that 90% of people won't even bother with the 'real' instrument part as it takes significantly more effort to learn and play than a fake plastic one.

I would have to disagree with your argument in bold. My sister, with absolutely no experience in any musical instrument save her voice (she's a mezzo soprano), started playing Guitar Hero on easy. Once she got the hang of it, she started moving towards harder difficulties. These days she ...????

Like I said, your sister is in the 10% that would benifit from some of the 'motions' involved and generally people who are interesting in music (as she is a singer and therefore has SOME interest in music) will eventually move onto other musical instruments / methods if interested.

romxxii:

I hope that when RB3 comes out, you'll join the rest of us and see that pretend rocking out is just as intense as the real thing. I should know, I've fronted for a band a few times. :P

So have I and I doubt it could even come close to all the late nights, wasted money, wasted days off work, long car journeys, crap PA, poor equipment and stages so small its like playing on a postage stamp that real giging involves :P

I can see the benifits of this sort of thing, but I stil feel like success stories are the minority rather than the majority.

I think the real proof will be how many people take on the 'real guitar' version of the game (and I might even be interested if they had a bass version :D) that would use the skills learnt to move onto writing music and real bands.

ldwater:

Like I said, your sister is in the 10% that would benifit from some of the 'motions' involved and generally people who are interesting in music (as she is a singer and therefore has SOME interest in music) will eventually move onto other musical instruments / methods if interested.

Hey, at least we have that 10% really moving on to real music. Better than the whole 100% going to a frickin' Justin Bieber concert, eh? :P

ldwater:

romxxii:

I hope that when RB3 comes out, you'll join the rest of us and see that pretend rocking out is just as intense as the real thing. I should know, I've fronted for a band a few times. :P

So have I and I doubt it could even come close to all the late nights, wasted money, wasted days off work, long car journeys, crap PA, poor equipment and stages so small its like playing on a postage stamp that real giging involves :P

I can see the benifits of this sort of thing, but I stil feel like success stories are the minority rather than the majority.

I think the real proof will be how many people take on the 'real guitar' version of the game (and I might even be interested if they had a bass version :D) that would use the skills learnt to move onto writing music and real bands.

Even better then, dontcha think? All the fun of gigging without the hassles. And hey, I happen to like gigging on small stages.

Given that even this "Pro" mode will have scalable difficulty settings, I think it'll be accessible enough for most people to get into it, at least on the easier levels, while giving real pros a level of realism and challenge they'd come to expect from actually playing the damned thing.

Damnit, I wish the "Required Reading" area would stop digging up ancient articles...well I'm still gonna make my quip, damnit!

"And here I thought the Guitar Hero Effect was the mild hallucination of movement you get from looking anywhere but the screen after having stared at the screen for a couple songs."

i listened to evile...before it was on guitar hero (meme reference there)

Fantastic read! Notice the image Ruth used is reversed? As it shows Hetfield playing lefty.

 

Reply to Thread

Log in or Register to Comment
Have an account? Login below:
With Facebook:Login With Facebook
or
Username:  
Password:  
  
Not registered? To sign up for an account with The Escapist:
Register With Facebook
Register With Facebook
or
Register for a free account here