Music-based video games steal the stage

Chris Kallio

In its four-year history, “Guitar Hero” and similar instrumentally-themed video games have ignited a spark of interest in playing an instrument for some gamers. For others, these games are merely a source of entertainment.

Across campus, these games have been met with accolades from several students.

Senior theatre major Andrew Morton said he enjoys the interactive music games because of the relaxation achieved through them.

“I used to play (‘Guitar Hero’) to unwind and take my mind off of school,” Morton said. “It was easy to get lost in rocking out.”

“Guitar Hero” paved the way for agnate games such as “Rock Band” and “PopStar Guitar.”

“Rock Band” gave way to its sequel, “Rock Band 2,” which was released in late September. With eighty-four songs and twenty additional ones available for downloading, “Rock Band 2” has proven to be just as entertaining and popular as the first.

“I play the (‘Rock Band’) games about two to three times a week,” said senior education major Scott Hager. “It is a good way to relax and clear your mind. Some favorite memories of mine are coming back from the bars with my friends and playing a few songs to wind down from a fun night.”

Melinda Wargo, sophomore general studies major, also enjoys playing “Rock Band.”

“I play ‘Rock Band’ pretty much whenever I can,” Wargo said. “I just got (‘Rock Band’) about a week ago. I think it’s safe to say I play it about an hour a day.”

These games offer a variety of practical features for Wargo and other users.

“Guitar Hero: World Tour,” which was released in late October, allows players to play solo, play with up to three “bandmates” and even play an interactive online version.

On, Erik Brudvig, Xbox team executive editor, said “‘Guitar Hero’ proved the market for music rhythm games is broader than previously thought. ‘Rock Band’ took the genre to the next step and made it more of a social experience by going beyond the six-string domain.

According to his article, “‘World Tour’ lets you become the rock star in every way possible-from playing the tunes to making the music itself.”

The game is packaged with a guitar (a larger model that comes close to the size of an actual guitar), mic and drums. Both the drum and guitar features are wireless. While containing essentially a mix of music of the ’80s, ’90s and classic rock, the game also features a sample of songs from emerging bands, such as “Aggro” by The Enemy and “Too Much, Too Young, Too Fast” by Airbourne.

“Guitar Hero: World Tour” appears to have at least met the appreciation of the masses who thrive on these games. For the first time in its series, players are provided the opportunity to play the drums and sing while playing the game. Yet, “World Tour” and other versions of these games are still met with users’ frustrations.

Noting the difficulty of upcoming games, Morton said, “I don’t know if I’m ready for it just yet; I think I’ll stick to the classics of ‘Guitar Hero 1, 2, and 3′”

Either way, these games have become a bit of a cultural phenomenon. According to Bobby Kotick, the CEO of Activision, Aerosmith has made more money on “Guitar Hero: Aerosmith” than from any of their previous albums. The games have also made appearances on “The Ellen DeGeneres Show,” “South Park” and professional wrestling.

An ember of momentary entertainment or a long-lasting generational phenomenon? You decide.

Contact all reporter Chris Kallio at [email protected].