It’s hard to believe that in November 2006 I was silently chuckling to myself when a friend of mine told me that he spent $90 on what I dismissed as a ‘Fisher-Price toy guitar.’ I was mistaken, for the Guitar Hero phenomena took the world by storm soon after.

Developers of video games have tried to tailor games to all imaginable genres. What better way to bring gaming to a casual audience than through music? A quick glance at this plastic instrument would lead one to think that this is some child’s plaything, but in fact the opposite is true.

Guitar Hero brings to the table a chance to show off some skill while still being accessible to newcomers. With four difficulty levels available, newbies can play alongside experienced Guitar Heroes. It offers songs from newer bands, such as Fall Out Boy, and oldies from the Rolling Stones, allowing for a taste from all musical genres.’

I was eventually persuaded to pick up Guitar Hero 2 for the Xbox 360, and I looked away in shame as I failed my first song on Easy. I practiced and moved on to Medium fairly quickly, but I was filled with envy when a good friend of mine blew through songs on Expert. It gave me a kind of goal to strive for.’ There are video games for the sake of gaming, and then there are video games of skill.’ I was determined to be up there with the best of players.’ Little did I know that it’d be a long road ahead.

There are pit stops on that road that make it all the more exciting. For instance, it’s right here on our campus that we see why musical video games should not be dismissed as a waste of time.’ Students bring their plastic guitars from home and play with friends, whether it be alongside with or against them. Gonzaga R.A. Antonio Musto ’11 hosted a Guitar Hero ‘amp; Faux Pong tournament in the Gonzaga Third Floor lounge on Sept. 29, bringing together guys and girls alike in two different competitions of skill.’

There has always been a divide between gamers and non-gamers, and Guitar Hero bridges that gap perfectly. Various students tried their hand at Guitar Hero during the tournament and, despite the numerous. Expert-level players, everyone had fun.’ It’s this quality of the game that makes it so appealing, for it gives even the musically-inept a chance to enjoy playing songs made by the pros.

By the time Guitar Hero 3 came out, I was rocking on Hard.’ I had already played the songs on Guitar Hero 2 to death, and the dozens of new songs in its sequel were quite refreshing.’ At last with some more practice I was able to move on to Expert, and it was wonderful to finally play with my friends as an equal.’

From my experience, having a high level of skill in a game that targets such a wide audience is the perfect method to bringing yourself some semblance of popularity.’
With the huge popularity of these games, bands have taken the initiative to try and have their music featured on the main set lists of the newest releases.’ Any song featured in Guitar Hero will be instantly recognized by the masses after the game’s release. A prime example of this is Dragonforce’s ‘Through the Fire and the Flames,’ which on Expert difficulty is touted as the most difficult song in the entire Guitar Hero franchise. I personally know only one person who has passed this song on Expert, and it’s that accomplishment that raised the bar for my goals even higher.

At first I thought the idea was ludicrous because, after all, the time I spend playing fake guitar could be put towards learning real guitar. Many months and many virtual rotten tomatoes later, I’ve learned that being a Guitar Hero is a feat unto itself.’ It’s something one can show off to friends, and with the expansions upon the series it takes the general idea of making music and brings it to the mainstream.’

I admit that my initial dismissal of Guitar Hero was completely unwarranted. It’s easy to play, difficult to master and overall a wonderful experience that has woven its way into the homes of children, the dorms of fellow college students and many other places.

Games like Guitar Hero and Rock Band make music into something that can bring even the most unlikely types together.’ After all, my skills at playing on Expert have brought me plenty of attention at the kiosks in Best Buy.’ It’s something anyone can pick up and with some invested time become skilled.

Whether you’ve already formed a virtual band or you’re ready to take some initiative and buy a guitar controller and game, it’s never too late to jump on the bandwagon and ROCK ON!

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