Friday, April 18, 2008

In which I profess my undying love for Rock Band

I got into rhythm games pretty late. Like "this year" late. But I think I may have waited just long enough to discover the golden age.

I was never a musician. I hung around with a lot of them, though -- I sat in dungy basements as my buddies wrote and practiced metal mayhem, I went to shitty high school band battles and cheered on the losing bands, and I waited outside all-ages nightclubs to get a chance to skirt around the edges of the mosh pit while people screamed into microphones and played heavily distorted guitars. My ears rang, and I kept coming back for more.

It influenced my choice in music for years to come. I fell in love with Rush, often described as musicians' musicians. I bought every Black Sabbath tape my local store carried, knowing they invented what other bands were stumbling over themselves to imitate. I bought blank tapes by the dozen to copy my friends' albums, and picked up new music as often as I could afford it.

I don't honestly know why I never tried to make music, but that ship sailed long ago. But that's okay. Harmonix wants to let me be in a Rock Band anyway. Whether alone or with my friends, in person or over the internet, I can pretend my frenzied mashing of buttons somehow produces the guitar track for Limelight, Tom Sawyer, or Sweet Leaf. Never mind that I can do the same thing with drums and singing when the mood strikes. And you don't just play the music, you customize your musicians, who you watch play the music in time with your actions.

Not only that, Rock Band isn't a game, it's a platform. Millions of dollars are being made selling playable versions of songs from a wide range of decades and genres of rock. Entire albums and possibly entire discographies are going to be made available. Motley Crue has released a single on it!

I may be almost 35, about to become a dad, drive a compact sedan and work in an office ... but whenever I want, I can strap that plastic guitar on and make magic.

I just hope we don't lose a whole generation of real musicians....

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