I’ve always argued that Guitar Hero is a tragic diversion for potential musicians who will never learn how to play an actual guitar. Worse, anyone playing Guitar Hero is not even responsible for making the music; they can only “hit” or “miss” the notes already laid out for them. The only way to remove a person any further from the process would be to handcuff them to a chair and blast an iPod Shuffle from across the room.
I think Michael is wrong on this. I haven’t seen any of the people I play Guitar Hero and Rock Band with thinking of it as playing music at all. They think of it as a game. For—I think—exactly the reasons Michael criticizes it. For the most part, it doesn’t feel like playing music at all. It feels like playing a game. I see nothing to convince me that any of the non-musicians among them would take up an instrument in the absence of these games, or that the musicians are making music less than they would. If these games are taking time away from something else, it is other games.
A friend once said to me, “I know a lot of people who own guitars, but you’re the only one who knows how to play it.” I find it hard to believe there are many potential guitarists who aren’t taking up the instrument because of Guitar Hero.
Moreover, another Fretbase contributor, Brian, posted an article about how a survey shows that—because of these games—players are more likely to start playing guitar or play more often if they already do.