Thanks for the music?

So the public is lapping up the games and the record labels (if not necessarily all of their artists) love it because it’s good for business at a time when they’re struggling to make the transition to digital distribution a profitable one. We have to agree with Llewellyn’s point about artists, established and new, popular and obscure, are getting exposure to new audiences. Is there much difference between hearing a song in a game or on the radio? If it (ahem) strikes a chord with you then you’re likely to look for more of that artist’s material.

Above: Now it's not just enough to dance in Dance Dance Revolution - you've got to get fit as well

Another point we asked our music industry experts to consider was the effect they think Guitar Hero and Rock Band are having on kids learning real instruments and forming their own bands. “Obviously they’re only offering a very pale facsimile of actually playing a real guitar, without any of the hard work involved,” says Needham. “In that way it seems pretty custom-made for the times.” A pretty withering verdict right there. Try nailing Through the Fire and Flames on Expert and try saying that’s not hard work… However, he adds that: “I think the people who have a predilection to form bands will continue to do so as it’s not a real substitute for being a musician. You can’t write your own songs on it and genuinely express yourself.”

Sian Llewellyn is of a similar mind. “As a rock fan and a guitarist who’s spent years learning to play the damn thing, it is kind of galling that people maybe will get discouraged from the real thing,” she says. “However, I think it’s more likely to encourage gamers to enjoy music on a wider level rather than deter those who would have the inclination to learn an actual instrument. Ultimately, there’s nothing like plugging in a real guitar and making a racket yourself.”

Jimmy Page of much-loved crusty rock outfit Led Zeppelin doesn’t reckon gamers can learn anything about playing real instruments through the games. “You think of the drum part that [Zep drummer] John Bonham did on Led Zeppelin’s first track on the first album, Good Times Bad Times,” he’s said. “How many drummers in the world can play that part, let alone on Christmas morning?” Zeppelin have been pretty vocal about their reluctance to have their tracks appear in the game. What a bunch of spoilsports, eh?

Above: Pop'n Music is a long-standing favorite in Japanese arcades, and now you can savor it on Wii

We’ve already heard how EMI are fans of the game. What do they think about the impact the games will have on potential stars of tomorrow? “Playing a game like Guitar Hero or Rock Band is fantastic fun and a very accessible way of interacting with music,” enthuses Hywel Evans. ”But once you’ve dipped your toe in the musical water nothing beats picking up a guitar or getting some drums and getting creative. Nailing Iron Maiden’s The Trooper on Hard might be satisfying, but I bet it doesn’t come close to standing with your mates performing one of your own songs to a stadium packed with fans who are singing along with you.”

The music world has always been one of changing formats – vinyl to cassette to CD to MP3 – but despite the immense popularity of music games, playing on a set of plastic instruments for high scores is never going to replace the real thing. If you’re born with any natural musical ability then not only are we childishly jealous of you, but you’re also not going to settle for imitations – you’re going to learn how to play an instrument.

Above: Can Karaoke Revolution steal SingStar's thunder? Well, SingStar's not on Wii, is it?

Guitar Hero and Rock Band certainly introduce new bands to new audiences. Many think that can only be a good thing for the musicians. Whatever your opinion of them, the music game bandwagon shows no sign of slowing down. Rock on.

Jul 21, 2009

The History of Music Games
Because when did it all get started, really?

 Guitar Hero: World Tour vs Rock Band 2
A duel to the death of the bigs in music games


  • guiarherodrummer1998 - December 13, 2009 12:15 a.m.

    I agree with CreeplyTuna. You shouldn't brag about how well you can play a videogame because its not considered a talent. I've been singing since before GH1 or Rock Band existed. I've since learned to play guitar and im in a band with four others called AtentionDEFICIT. We play grunge.
  • guiarherodrummer1998 - December 13, 2009 12:11 a.m.

    I get soooo tired of hearing Today, and Stranglehold and Crazy Train because they are so heavily overplayed in guitar hero world tour. I wish also they won't stop making Guitar Hero Games after the releases of DJ Hero and Band Hero, which by the way, has way too much pop music, and that can draw GH fans away.
  • CreeplyTuna - July 25, 2009 3:05 a.m.

    sure these games can be a bit of fun as a party game, but if you go around bragging at how good you are and can't even play a real instrument, SHAME ON YOU! I've been a drummer since before guitar hero 1, and i'm in a real rockin band, Downtown Sasquatch. i ended middle school this year, and from my school mates opinions, im the best rock drummer at my school. but there are three or four people i can name who JUST started drumming and talk as though they're the real deal, and i know for sure one of them hasn't even gotten a drum set yet. TO ALL THE POSER'S OUT THERE: F*** YOU!!!games don't make you musicians, the heart and soul of rock and roll does! did Kurt Cobain, or jimi hendrix or Dave Grohl become masters of rock from, games? NO, now shut up and leave the world alone. thank you
  • hetfieldhammet51 - July 22, 2009 10:02 p.m.

    how does Jack White have the right to say that being exposed to new music through music games is sad. The WHite stipes suck and Music games our this age's tape trading
  • alfonso.hdez - July 22, 2009 3:52 p.m.

    I think that saying that music games either create new musicians/kill music is like the argument saying shooters create violent people. If you really like music, you won't stop at playing a plastic controller w/paddles, and if you really enjoy the game, it won't stop you from learning the real thing. If you just find the game as a passtime and you don't feel like taking a real instrument, well, I guess you weren't going to in the first place! Sorry for the long comment btw.
  • Squidtech - July 22, 2009 1 p.m.

    "Try nailing Through the Fire and Flames on Expert and try saying that’s not hard work…" That's really ridiculous statement. How long does it really take to get good at Guitar Hero? Really? After owning the game for a year, just about anyone will be pretty damn good at the game. Sure, that's REALLY hard work by any sort of video game standards, but it's nothing compared to 10 years of practice it would take to even play close to that level on a real instrument.
  • Miresnare - July 22, 2009 10:55 a.m.

    Guitar Hero made mt pick up the real thing at age 32 (I'm now 35) as it was something I regretted not doing when I was younger. I sill enjoy the game. It's a game. Plain and simple. I'm not going to sneer at someone having fun with it. I do however, love playing the real thing and find it incredibly satisfying.
  • mertor3190 - July 22, 2009 6:21 a.m.

    In my opinion, Guitar Hero did a lot for music. I started listening to new music thanks to them. Music that has been existing for years and I never knew about. Sure now they're going a bit too far, but the fact remains that it helped people find out what real music is. I mean do we really want kids to listen to this new rap crap.
  • Doctalen - July 22, 2009 2:59 a.m.

    Guitar Hero and Rockband are really fun. Hell because of that I ak thinking og taking either drums or maybe guitar lessons. They also have introuduced me to a bunch of good bands. But I can see why Led Zepplin doesn't want their songs on them. There is no substitue for hours if not weeks of practice to know a song by heart. Like my english teacher said " I can see why its fun, for drums and singing you may actually get better at that but playing a real guitar is nothing like playing guitar hero. If you want to play music just pick up an intrument and learn to play it without any other urge to play it other then your desire."
  • phoenix_wings - July 22, 2009 2:23 a.m.

    I have used to have a nice little playlist going on my computer that's called "Songs I First Heard in Video Games." There's a lot of them--some of them from GTA and Saints Row, others from GH (never played RB). If there's a medium that gets people to listen and open their ears to something they've never heard before, then all power to it...However.... Most people like it now because it's easy, you pick it up and play it, it doesn't require a buttload of previous practice or hundreds of dollars to be on the same level as the rest of your 'band mates.' When there comes a day where we have less 'real guitar heroes and less 'real' rock bands, then I'll see cause for concern. If there comes a day that we're limited to what we can do on the guitar by the pressing of little plastic buttons and retarded whammy bars, then I'll see cause for concern. Otherwise, I see it as a re-imagined Zapper, or Superscope. Fun to play, but they never hurt anybody.
  • BuggattiFreak - July 22, 2009 12:36 a.m.

    Sorry GR, but that comment on Through the Fire and Flames was just stupid. If it's hard on a rickety plastic thing with five buttons, it's easy compared to the real thing.
  • pimpdaddie - July 22, 2009 12:25 a.m.

    what if game developers make a game were you play a real guitar and have the same gameplay as a guitar hero game. that would be the next real revolution.
  • TheReaper24 - July 21, 2009 11:54 p.m.

    For me, when I first played guitar hero, it got me inspired to try and play my favorite songs. It gave me a new look on music, and since it was my inspiration to playing guitar, it made me look at life differently. Yea I know that sounds weird but its true, if I hadn't listen to the music I do today, then I would be a totally different person. And plus games like Guitar Hero and Rock Band bring us back to music that we haven't even heard because they are so old.
  • penguinsrule3 - July 21, 2009 10:57 p.m.

    guitar hero, rock band, all of them are sell outs
  • kubes - July 21, 2009 10:52 p.m.

    i play the drums because i started in rockband i practice everyday i think music games are great btw @helloimgaydo wtf
  • foodlist97 - July 21, 2009 9:48 p.m.

    Rock band taught me how to play the drums.
  • Amnesiac - July 21, 2009 9:40 p.m.

    Jack White can stop his bitching. Would he rather have kids learn about his music from Guitar Hero or not know about it at all?
  • civver - July 21, 2009 9:07 p.m.

    These games would let one experience music first-hand. The next step would be the ability to create and share actual music online with these games.
  • Corsair89 - July 21, 2009 8:31 p.m.

    Guitar Hero and Rock Band are the reasons that I got into real gutiar in the first place. They also massivily expanded my iTunes library. Without them, I wouldn't be anywhere near as into music as I am now.
  • Kaz993 - July 28, 2009 4:49 p.m.

    there were quite a lot of songs I liked before GH or RB ruined them. Best example : Fire and the Flames, and by extension, the whole band Dragonforce. No one knew who they were in my school beforehand, maybe a few, I used to enjoy their music. Then strolls along GH3 and suddenly EVERYONE is listening to it, talking about it "oh man that song is fucking epic" and singing it. This is still happening. I cannot stand them anymore, everyone listens to it and it's constantly everywhere.

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