Smile and Nod

Smile and Nod: Is it Too Loud, or Am I Too Old?

Russ Pitts | 23 Jun 2008 17:00
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I don't play Guitar Hero anymore. Perhaps that shouldn't be a surprise. I was late to that party anyway.

Back in 2005,. When everybody and their granny was oohing and ahhing over the option of rocking out with the little, plastic guitar, I was chuckling mildly and sipping at scotch, wondering just what in the hell had gotten into all those people. And then I played it.

Cue: sound of screeching tires.

Picking up that little, plastic axe for the first time and playing through the entire game with my brother by my side was one of the coolest gaming experiences I've ever had. And I'd been doing this for so long I thought I'd seen and done it all. That learned me.

Within weeks I was a Guitar Hero devotee. I got my first PS2 just to play the damn game, and spent the better part of every night for a year shredding the crap out of it. It was, as everyone with a keyboard and a PS2 at the time wrote, the resurgence of the dream, the resurrection of the gamer fantasy, the revival of fun. Guitar Hero was more than just a game, it kicked ass in a way no game ever had. Other games make playing fun. Guitar Hero made life more fun.

And then the second one came out, and it was awesome. Another guitar, another year, a lot more parties where the plastic guitars came out before the booze. It isn't often life seems as simple as plugging in a guitar and wailing away, but that year it was.

Those of you who actually play the guitar are exempt from reading and/or caring about the preceding sentence. We all know you folks have tapped into some arcane power, granting yourselves access to previously untapped levels of awesome. We know honey flows from your fingertips, chicks line up for blocks to have sex with you and the gods themselves smile upon you as their golden children, able to rock at a moment's notice. Good for you. No, really. I think it's great. Just look at the smile on my face. It's genuine, I swear.

This is what Guitar Hero is about; you don't know an A chord from a lamp cord, but with Guitar Hero, you can still rock. Vishnu bless videogames.

Something happened late last year though, to me anyway; I stopped caring. Rock Band came along, with the promise of re-invigorating the genre (I wasn't aware it needed it) and opening up a couple of new positions in the band in the process. Guitar heroes, it would seem, were so last year. Now you could be a drum hero. No, really.

Let's talk about drummers for a second. I've never played in a band, but I've served as a kind of informal roadie for several. There was a time when practically everyone I knew was in a band. Friends, roommates, girlfriends, etc. Everybody played - except me. I was always hanging around, walking into clubs with the band, carrying something or another just to get already cheap beer at "band prices" and feeling like I was just that much cooler than the guys who didn't know the band.

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